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Archive for January, 2012

Coney Boardwalk Rathskeller

Remnant of Under the Boardwalk Rathskeller: Food & Beverage Menu from the 1940s. Photo © Brooklyn Beach Shop via AmusingtheZillion.com. All Rights Reserved

The renovation of stores on the Coney Island Boardwalk has already uncovered the ghost lettering of an arcade and signage for Club Atlantis. The latest discovery is a remnant of one of the rathskellers that thrived under the Boardwalk in the 1940s and ’50s. The menu for the long-lost bar was found on a basement wall by Maya Haddad of Brooklyn Beach Shop, which will soon begin rehabbing the first-floor space formerly occupied by Coney Island Souvenirs.

Coney Island Rathskeller

Vintage Ad: Coney Island Rathskeller for Lease

Decades before the Army Corps of Engineers pumped sand under the Coney Island Boardwalk in the 1990s, rathskellers (council’s cellar in German) were popular with beach goers. ATZ found an ad from 1957 looking to lease an 80-foot Boardwalk frontage with an 80-foot rathskeller below with direct frontage on the beach.

The name of the rathskeller whose menu was rediscovered remains unknown, but its prices appear to date back to the 1940s. Beer and milk were 10 cents, coffee was a nickel. The sandwich menu included hamburger, egg, cream cheese, American cheese, Swiss cheese, Sardine or Salmon, Ham, Salami or Liverwurst, Ham & Egg, and a Western. Could this be the place where the boy in the 1953 movie The Little Fugitive returned soda bottles to collect money to go on the rides?

Brooklyn Beach Shop’s new location next to Ruby’s Bar is in a building that dates back to 1940. The original tenant was Moe’s Fascination, which occupied the upper story until 1965. Brooklyn Beach Shop, a spinoff of Coney Island Beach Shop located behind Nathan’s and in Stillwell Terminal, will feature their own brand of Coney Island-themed clothing and souvenirs. The Boardwalk shop is expected to open in April.

Remnant of Boardwalk Rathskeller

Remnant of Under the Boardwalk Rathskeller: Beverage Menu from the 1940s. Photo © Brooklyn Beach Shop via AmusingtheZillion.com. All Rights Reserved.

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January 16, 2012: Photo of the Day: Signs of Coney’s Club Atlantis Resurface

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

October 27, 2011: Ghost Lettering & End of Season Color in Old Coney Island

October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

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Frozen Custard from Photographs of New York by Reginald Marsh. ca. 1938-1945, printed 1976. Reginald Marsh. Courtesy AntiquePhotographics.com

When Reginald Marsh photographed Coney Island as the subject for his artwork in the late 1930s and the ’40s, one could still buy frozen custard for a nickel. The dessert made its debut in 1919 when the Kohr brothers, Archie and Elton, opened a stand on the Coney Island Boardwalk. The nickel treat was a sensation, selling 18,460 cones on the first weekend! Kohr’s Frozen Custard is still in business on the Boardwalks at Seaside Heights and Casino Pier on the Jersey Shore. According to the history page of the company’s website, “After many experiments with the formula, Archie and Elton discovered that by adding eggs to the mix, they got a much more stiff, velvety and creamy product which would melt more slowly.”

Today, Coney Island’s ice cream offerings include Denny’s soft serve and Coney’s Cones gelato, but the frozen custard stands of yesteryear are long gone. You have to go to Shake Shack in Manhattan. Or all the way to Utah, where Coneys Custard and Gourmet Dogs won the “Best of State Award” last year. Their signature custard is named after the Cyclone roller coaster.

Like the Whip ride and the game of Fascination, frozen custard is another delight that first saw the light of day in Coney Island, but can’t be found here anymore. Last year, ATZ proclaimed “Bring Back the Whip!” This year we add: “Bring Back Fascination and Frozen Custard!”

UPDATE, January 30, 2012…

Comments on Facebook and twitter in response to this post have inspired this update: What’s the difference between soft serve and frozen custard?

Wikipedia says: “True frozen custard is a very dense dessert. Soft serve ice creams may have an overrun as large as 100%, meaning half of the final product is composed of air. Frozen custard, when made in a proper continuous freezer will have an overrun of 15-30% depending on the machine manufacturer. Air is not pumped into the mix, nor is it added as an “ingredient” but gets into the frozen state by the agitation of liquid similar to whisking a meringue. The high percentage of butterfat and egg yolk gives frozen custard a thick, creamy texture and a smoother consistency than ice cream. Frozen custard can be served at –8°C (18°F), warmer than the –12°C (10°F) at which ice cream is served, in order to make a soft serve product.”

According to FDA requirements, frozen custard must have at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids, but some brands have more. If it has fewer egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream. Frozen custard has less fat and sugar than ice cream.

UPDATE January 4, 2014:

Rita’s Italian Ice, a national franchise whose tag line is “Ice, Custard and Happiness” will open a store on Surf Avenue at West 15th street in Coney Island.

Frozen Custard, Etching by Reginald Marsh. 1939. Photo via The Old Print Shop

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January 13, 2012: Rare & Vintage: Reginald Marsh Photos of Coney Island

November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round

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Brooklyn’s Ringmasters Crew burst into the national spotlight on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew Season 3. Their raw energy and sinuous showmanship are on display in a trio of vids shot by Salvatore D’Alia in Coney Island last July. The Beach, Boardwalk and Pier are the stage for their performance of the Brooklyn born dance style called Flexing. Our fave is the hypnotic “Ringmasters Crew as the sun goes down” set to Lynx’s “Tricksters and Fools.”

The Ringmasters’ mesmerizing moves include Bone Breaking, Hat Tricks, Gliding, Animation, Pauzin (a unique style of Poppin), Connecting (a unique style of Tutting), Original floor moves, Dare Devil Stunts and amazing Punchlines, according to the group’s website. In “Ringmasters Put On A Mind-blowing Show In Coney Island | HOC Flexing Bonebreaking,” you’ll see one of the dancers do a back flip off a roof! The video features Corey aka Gutta Love, Sheik aka Taliibaan Sheik, Roy aka Winiez, Spyda aka Da Hat Mann, Vibez aka Vibez and Jay-Donn aka PunchLine King.

The third vid was shot on the Pier after dark with the lights of the rides glittering in the distance and the dancers as vampires.

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August 7, 2010: Video: Coney Island Dancing by Jim McDonnell

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