Chock full o’Nuts

But absent of any nuts.

Chock full o’Nuts is an American brand of coffee that originated from a chain of New York City coffee shops. Just in case you’re wondering, the coffee contains no nuts.

The chain was founded in 1926 by William Black who sold nuts in Times Square to theater-goers. The first store was on Broadway and 43rd Street and he eventually added 17 more. With the depression people could no longer afford the luxury of shelled nuts so he converted the stores to lunch counters, selling coffee and sandwiches. Their signature “nutted cheese” sandwich, made of cream cheese and chopped nuts on dark raisin bread, cost a nickel with a cup of coffee when the company was founded.

The cost of coffee went up in the 1950s but like other coffee sellers, William kept the 5-cent price by watering it down. He soon broke ranks and went up announcing he would no longer sacrifice quality. In 1953, the coffee was introduced to supermarkets and in 1961 they started selling instant coffee.

In the 1950s baseball star, Jackie Robinson became the company’s vice president and director of personnel, after retiring from the game. Within that decade the chain had approximately 80 restaurants in the New York City area.

Hygiene was a selling point, with the sandwiches advertised as “untouched by human hands”. Cooks used tongs to assemble them. In the 1970s, the lunch counters gradually closed. After Black died in 1983, the company sold its remaining 17 restaurants to the restaurant company Riese Bros.

The Sara Lee Corporation purchased Chock full o’Nuts for $238 million in 1999. In May 2006, it was purchased from Sara Lee by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA.

On September 10, 2010, the company announced it was returning to the lunch counter business by opening its first store in almost 30 years, on West 23rd Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue in Manhattan.

To assure those with allergies to nuts, the company began adding the slogan “NO NUTS! 100% Coffee” to its packaging in the 2000s. (The coffee blend itself has never contained nuts.) The company also sells its single-serve K-Cup variation called “A Better Cup by Design”. The Chock full o’Nuts advertising jingle was based on the song, “That Heavenly Feeling”, written by Bernie Wayne and Bill Silbert.

Sung by company founder William Black’s wife, cabaret singer Page Morton Black, it received extensive airplay on both radio and television in the 1950s and 1960s. The Rockefeller reference was changed to “millionaire” after being sued by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller.

Original Lyrics
Chock full o'Nuts is that heavenly coffee, 
Heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee.
Chock full o'Nuts is that heavenly coffee,
Better coffee Rockefeller's money can't buy.



Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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