The Randall’s 1987 Food Fest

Today we’ll be taking a look at the 1987-88 Randall’s Food Almanac. What is a Food Almanac, you might ask? Well, it’s a year round collection of recipes, paired with coupons and vintage advertisements. Using a Food Almanac as advertising was not unique to Randall’s, but its debut was tied to a much bigger event, The 1987 Randall’s Food Fest. This was the third year of the newest celebration Randall’s had to offer. From samples of in store products, to chef created dinners, the Food Fest not only provided a gourmet experience, but for most Houstonians their first glimpse into the George R. Brown Convention center. Built in the early 80s the GRB had only been open to private events since completion, in the two years before the 1987 Food-fest Randall’s had used the Astrohall. The booking of the GRB was a symbolic victory for Randall’s who would quickly take a dominant step forward in Houston’s grocery scene in the early 90s. At only around 40 locations by 1987 Randall’s was not the largest competitor in the Houston area, but they were popular, and growing. They were seen as somewhat of a “hip” grocery store, granted it was hip for Yuppies, but that lifestyle tends to pair with money.

The recipes in the cookbook are wildly varying, from a Middle Eastern feast of Tabbouleh, Kefta, and Labneh to an Easter Ham, whipped potatoes, and Yeast Rolls. I have opted to not include any of the recipes as they don’t see to be anything special and may have been the direct creation of one person. Today instead, we’ll be focusing on some of the incredible ads tucked away for the past 35 years. If you’re interested in learning more about the 1987 Randall’s Food Fest here is a Schedule of Events, and a Description of the Company written by themselves.

 

 

Well, I hope you all have enjoyed today’s look through some old literature. I tried to find any video or photographic evidence of the Randall’s Food Fest, and while I’m sure somebody somewhere has it, I couldn’t scrape up anything else for this post. So, I invite my readers, if you attended the Food Fest, what was it like? Were the descriptions in the paper accurate or overblown? I think we’re all curious to know!

 

4 comments

  1. I grew up on the Food Club/Topco family of products in Michigan thanks to our neighborhood Meijer Thrifty Acres.

  2. I can hear the old Gatorade jingle through that ad… “Gatorade is THIRST-AID! (ahh) For that DEEP DOWN body thirst!”

    Nothing sells Crsip’N Tasty Pizza like “consumer preference”…

  3. I don’t remember Randall’s Food Fest 1987, but I do remember the excitement about the opening of the GRB in 1987. Given the excitement Houstonians had for Randall’s at that time, the combination of Randall’s and GRB would have been quite fitting!

    I quite specifically remember the drawing in the Randall’s senior ad. Randall’s used to have weekly coupons just for seniors over by their courtesy booths. They were usually printed on blue pieces of paper. Nearby to those coupons were envelope-looking surveys that Randall’s obviously took quite seriously. I’m not sure why I remember this so vividly, but there you go!

    I remember a lot of the products in these ads including Five Alive! In fact, I’m not completely aware if some of these products have been discontinued. For sure, in 1987, those frozen concentrate orange juice packages were still popular. OJ cartons were difficult to open. Once OJ cartons had spouts with caps, and then later when plastic bottles replaced the cartons completely for the fancy brands, those frozen concentrate packages seemed to almost completely disappear overnight. Oh well.

    Those Totino’s Tempin’ Toppings pizzas may have been fancier versions of Totino’s famous Party Pizzas. That’s not saying much, lol.

    Seeing an ad for Ortho Diazinon is quite strange for a Food Fest!

    That Gatorade ad reminds me of a 1973 ad for the sugar industry that I have in an old National Geographic issue that I have. The implication in the ad was that kids were thin because they consumed so much sugar that made them go out and run and such. Yeah, this ad has not aged well I would say, lol: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/Ky4AAOSw6a5fTArq/s-l900.jpg

    Anyway, thanks for these great scans. I enjoyed seeing them.

    1. Most grocers still stock a small selection of frozen juice concentrates, though it seems the products are now aimed almost exclusively at folks who mix them with alcoholic beverages. But even as late as the late 90s, the frozen juice section of most grocers was pretty large, larger than the refrigerated Pillsbury dough products section for example, if I recall correctly. Nowadays Minute Maid is about the only brand you’ll find in most stores other than a store brand.

      Five Alive remains available in Canada and, I think, in some parts of the US. It disappeared from around here in the 2010s, if I recall. At least it’s still around somewhere, though, which is more than can be said for my beloved Minute Maid orange soda (Fanta made it superfluous, sure… but Fanta also isn’t half as good).

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