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Neighbors: More memories about King's Food Host restaurants in F-M

Neighbors has carried several memories of the old King’s Food Host restaurants in Fargo and Moorhead.

Now, here’s a question about their hamburgers, plus a Food Host story that gave one customer an earful.

The question comes from Joan Blegen, West Fargo, who writes that she read a previous column about the Food Host with “great interest” and now has a question about how they made their hamburgers.

“They were loosely put together, and they were juicy and very tasty,” Joan says. “I have never had a hamburger any other place like them. Most hamburgers are so packed and sometimes even hard.”

Here’s the answer. It comes from Polly Drayton, Fargo, wife of the late Tom Drayton, owner/manager of the Fargo Food Host.

The meat, graded “choice,” was purchased in West Fargo, kept cold and NEVER frozen, Polly says.

Prior to grinding it, all tough fibers, sinews, skins, glands, blood clots and gristle were removed.

Tom ground hamburger every morning, put it in tubs and kept it in a walk-in refrigerator.

He’d form the cold hamburger for the current day into one-quarter-pound balls (still the recommended healthful portion of meat for an adult serving, Polly says), put them on trays in the refrigerator until it was time to prepare them, then would put the cold balls on the grill and press them down into a patty ONCE.

When the burger was brown, he’d turn it over just once. He would salt and pepper the burgers with one big swish each from large salt and pepper shakers.

“I don’t know the temperature of the grill,” Polly says, “but I imagine 325-350 degrees. (And) he didn’t keep smashing the burgers.

“I think it would be difficult to replicate these burgers,” she says. “It was a long process to have the burger fresh and of the top quality they were.

“The buns were important, too. Tom tried many bakeries before he found the one with the freshness he required.”

There you go, Joan and other Food Host burger fans. Fire up that grill and see if you can come up with a burger like Tom’s.

Phoning in

Now, this story from Don Andersen, Fargo.

“In the late 1960s,” Don writes, “my girlfriend (now my wife of 45 years) and I stopped at King’s Food Host for a bite to eat.

“After studying the menu, I put the yellow telephone receiver to my ear to order and suddenly,” the way Don puts it, “everything sounded ‘yellow.’

“It appears that the previous occupant of our booth had lined the earpiece of the receiver with mustard.

“My girlfriend thought it was hilarious. I,” Don says, “did not.”

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail