11 July, 2010

Vintage Sunday: Eight O'Clock Coffee

The third largest-selling brand of coffee in the US, Eight-O-Clock Coffee started out as A&P Food Store's house brand of light-roasted "breakfast" coffee in 1919, and was sold in A&P stores alongside their other original roasted blends "Red Circle" and "Bokar."  

Over the years, the "Eight O'Clock" brand came to encompass the rest of the A&P coffee lineup as a brand name as well as a type of roast.  In the early 1980's, A&P began licensing the coffee to be sold in other supermarkets - including their competitors.  Eight O'Clock has been owned by India's Tata Group since 2005.

I find it interesting that in recent years, almost every supermarket has added a custom grinder to their coffee aisle.  When I was a kid, A&P was the only store where you could get coffee ground to order - and every checkout aisle had a coffee grinder built in right by the cashier's station so the coffee could be freshly ground just before you left the store.  I wonder what happened to all those huge red grinders?  They were big, heavy, bullet-proof, and built to last a hundred years by the Hobart Company.  I'd love to have one in my kitchen, wouldn't you?


Marc said...

Those grinders were the absolute best! What a score one of those would be!

Dave said...

I drink 8 O'Clock coffee - in a blend. I buy three big bags of coffee beands; one "original", one "Columbian" and one "French" and stir them together. Used to get it at the A&P - but, they don't exist in the Midwest any longer. So, I take the coffee beans home and stir them together then parcel them into single pot sized portions and freeze the result until needed. Good Stuff.

The first coffee I ever drank was Bokar, ground at the A&P in Carlinville, IL and brewed by my Granddad.

The current version of Bokar is hard to find and not worth the trouble. A friend who lives near their plant in Connecticut scored a bag and sent it to me. Not nearly as robust nor as aromatic as my memory told me it should be.

I haven't seen the Red Spot coffee for ages ... I think it has been rebranded as "Spotlight" coffee.

I still own a coffee pot much like the third pot in the advert. Drip-O-Lator I think it was called. The ground coffee goes into a basket that fits between the water receptacle and the actual coffee pot. Don't use it much except when camping. These days I use an electric drip pot and grind the beans in a Braun R2-D2 grinder.


Nethead said...

The Waldbaum's in West Hartford still has one of those grinders. It's the only A&P outlet left in the entire state. My poison of choice is the Italian Roast. Nice oily dark beans. They now sell something called Hartford Reserve (named to sound exotic to the rest of the country ... here, not so much) as the house brand. It's OK.

Mike DeMeo said...

Those machines bring back memories! When I was in high school in the early 1970's the best part of the job was getting to grind the customers coffee. Originally, there were 2 machines, and they were mounted in the coffee section. Then they moved them up to the cashiers area for convience. One machine did the normal grinding, the other was a pulverizer. I never knew anyone who had their coffee pulverized. Anyway, when they sit the store down, they were going to leave the machines there. I wanted one. Being in High School, I did not have the tools to remove the machin without destroying it. I was further discouraged because it ran on 220 volts! I guess the machines met their fate when the store was gutted! Thanks for the memories!