"Long tail" strikes again: $400 waffle mystery solved

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It seems that if you wait long enough, you can get an answer to any question on the internet.

Each week, James Lileks posts photos of a vintage matchbook advertising a business. He usually is able to provide some information on the subsequent history of the business or what is now at that address. Quite some time ago, Lileks posted a matchbook for Harris Lunch, a cafe that seemed to have left no trace on the World Wide Web and mentioned mysterious menu items. He made a guess (which turned out to be pretty accurate), but concluded, "Who knows? These are the details we lose every day."

Because the place had a Ponca City, Okla., location, I posted a link to see if a BatesLine reader had any information. Last night, Al Harris, the son of founder U. P. Harris, found my entry via a search engine and left a comment with the history of Harris Lunch, $400 waffles, and preacher-style fried chicken. I tweeted it @Lileks, and he was kind enough to link to the find in today's Bleat.

This rediscovery of nearly-lost culinary history was made possible by a matchbook collector willing to share his finds on the Internet (in the most entertaining way possible), a blog with a local emphasis and searchable archives, and someone looking for traces of family history on the World-Wide Web.

Oh, and it turns out Lileks had another Harris matchbook, which he used for an episode of "Joe Ohio," which built the life story of a matchbook salesman, in serial form, out of an anonymous man's matchbook collection. This matchbook is for Harris' Fine Foods, mentions Preacher Style Chicken and $400 waffles, and locations in Logan, Utah, Grand Junction, Colo., as well as Kingman, Kans. (I remember reading it now, but it didn't mention any location in Oklahoma, so it didn't make the impression that the other matchbook did.)

UPDATED 2016/05/30 with new locations of matchbooks on Lileks.com

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 1, 2009 11:55 PM.

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