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File:Malt Shop.jpg

Brian (Manager of The Greasy Fork): Britta, you promised that this private party would be done by eight. You're doing this during the peak business hours for nostalgia-themed diners.

Annie: Oh, is that true? Has that been researched?

Brian: It has, Annie. After they get frightened by the evening news, many seek the comforting foods and soothing music of a pre-racial America.

Obligatory bit of 1950s Popular History. All the kids hang out here and listen to the jukebox play Nothing but Hits. Carhops are optional. The Malt Shop may also be referred to as a diner, a soda fountain, a drug store or a café but the general look is always basically the same. In a Time Travel story ending up in The Fifties, often the first place gone into after the "Mister Sandman" Sequence (as in Back to The Future, for example).

The Greasy Spoon is the Malt Shop's less romanticized (but equally conventionalized) cousin. Watch out for the teenagers who are Sweetheart Sipping or the possible eruption of a Diner Brawl.

Examples of Malt Shop include:

Comic Books

  • Pop Tate's Choclit Shoppe in Archie.
  • The Retro Universe of Fawcett City in DC Comics' Power Of Shazam includeed a malt shop (possibly the same one from Captain Marvel's initial Whiz Comics appearances). It even played a plot point in the recent Black Adam miniseries.
  • Kitty Pryde and Storm bond over milkshakes at The Malt Shoppe in Uncanny X-Men #130.


Live Action TV

  • Arnold's from Happy Days
  • The Pie Hole in Pushing Daisies resembles one of these, in keeping with the show's Retro Universe aesthetic.
  • The Groovy Smoothie in ICarly is a modernised version, used as the Local Hangout. Slightly subverted by the fact that it is frequently mentioned early on but doesn't actually appear until halfway through the second season.
  • Parodied on a Mad TV sketch with a "nostalgic" diner which for the sake of period accuracy refused to serve black customers.
  • Bizarrely, the first round of time travel on Supernatural, where Dean sees his youthful parents-to-be on a date to one of 1973. Possibly the influence of her protective father.



Western Animation

  • The Scooby Doo gang visited these quite a bit in parts of the plot that would normally have taken them to a bar. Also, the Scooby gang would often start an episode in a malt shop (in the 1969-80 show), when they weren't on a beach.
  • Futurama had this in their time travel episode to 1945.
  • An episode of Family Guy features a restaurant with a retro 50s malt shop motif. Cleveland, being black, was not allowed to enter.
  • Seen in the Schoolhouse Rock segment "A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing" as the narrator engages in some Sweetheart Sipping with her "best friend."

Real Life

  • Johnny Rockets, a national chain of sit-down hamburger restaurants with a 1950s motif, including waitpersons with paper hats and checkered aprons, chrome finish on everything, and 5-cent jukeboxes stocked with period pop music.
    • They've kept the visuals, but the music's all over the place now, including stuff like the B-52's "Love Shack" and Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville".
  • Sonic Drive-In is a chain of drive-in diners that began in the '50s and has survived and thrived into the present day, complete with carhops who wear roller skates. In Northern cities, they're known primarily for the fact that they advertise even though the nearest Sonic may be tens or even hundreds of miles away (Northern weather isn't that conductive to drive-in diners).
  • In modern times, malt shops as such are pretty rare -- you're more likely to see kids hanging out at the local ice cream shop (admittedly essentially the same thing) or Starbucks.
  • The Classic 50s is a one-of-a-kind drive-in in Norman, Oklahoma that is more or less identical to Sonic except even more nostalgic of the 1950s. Kids meals even come in cardboard replicas of classic cars!
  • There is one down in Hillsboro, OR or it was there last time I visited. That area is the sort of place where specialty businesses crowd around.
  • The A&W's chain of fast-food joints have become known for marketing based on nostalgia: They base many of their commercials, and even the interior on the "classic fast food joint" look of The Fifties. Of course, it's not a Malt Shop per se, but it has many elements of one, including ice cream/root beer floats and nostalgic black and white photos on the walls.
  • Route 66 lives and breaths 50's nostalgia, so there are plenty of old drive-ins and malt shops along the route to cater to tourists.
  • Nifty Fifty's in Pennsylvania and New Jersey deliberately recreates the malt/sodashop aesthetic, right down to soda jerks who'll mix a custom soda for you from your choice of a couple dozen syrups and seltzer water.
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