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est.1997

Updated May 14,  2016

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Cheese Frenchee - Kings Food Host Original

From the kitchen of Kings Food Host USA



Ingredients
:
6 Slices white bread
6 Slices American Cheese (must be American cheese)
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Milk
3/4 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Salt
Kellogg's Corn Flake crumbs
Mayonnaise
Oil for deep fat frying


Instructions :
Make 3 sandwiches, using 2 slices of American Cheese per sandwich.
Spread mayonnaise on bread slices.
Cut sandwiches diagonally into triangles.
Cut the crusts off the sandwiches.
Combine egg, milk, flour and salt.
Dip the triangle sandwiches into egg mixture, and coat with corn flake crumbs.
Fry in oil at 375 degrees until golden brown.



A brief history of Kings Food Host home of the Cheese Frenchee

It’s remarkable how people still pine for Cheese Frenchees of days gone by. Recipes for the most cherished of these, the Kings Food Host Cheese Frenchee, a battered, deep fried cheese sandwich with a crunchy cornflake exterior, are all over the internet. It may have been modeled on the somewhat similar Croque Monsieur sandwich of France, explaining the name Frenchee.

Frenchees, were the creation of King’s Food Host, a fast food chain catering to families and college students in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of the chain’s units were located in the middle of the country, with headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska, where there were once nine units. The first – King’s Drive-In – was started by James King and Larry Price in 1955, on North Cotner in Lincoln. I wonder if the first one had telephones at each table that patrons used to send their orders to the kitchen?

Jim King soon dropped out of the partnership but  Larry Price stayed with it until 1972 when he gave up control of the company for around $3 million. It had reached its peak size then, with about 100 company-owned stores and 35 franchised units. Reportedly it had units in Winnipeg, Canada, and 20 states, but I’ve only been able to identify 18: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In King’s younger days around 1966 when it had only 35 locations in 10 states, it focused on building near universities. King’s were handy for students at state universities in Nebraska (Lincoln), Iowa (Ames), Wisconsin (Madison), and Colorado (Boulder), with new units under construction in Norman, Oklahoma, and Lawrence, Kansas.

Larry Price, who graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University, had been a football assistant there and served on the university’s board of trustees. His first food service foray was as a teenager in 1934 when he ran a hamburger stand at the 1934 Nebraska State Fair. He was very likely the motive force behind the chain’s advertised principles.

The Frenchees may have disappeared from the chain at some point or maybe simply dropped out of favor. They were heavily promoted as part of a nostalgia campaign shortly after King’s went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1974. Apart from Cheese Frenchees, King’s offered Ham & Cheese Frenchees, Tuna Frenchees, Hot Dog Frenchees, and Pizza Frenchees. Never having seen an actual Frenchee myself, I can’t picture what the last two varieties looked like. Apparently the Pizza Frenchie, which “joined the Frenchee family” in the dark days of 1974, was not a big hit.

The chain’s troubles started just after it went public in 1969 and began a rapid expansion drive. In debt for millions, it could not work out a satisfactory deal with creditors and never emerged from bankruptcy. Stock shares which sold for $14 each in 1969 dropped to a low of 50 cents after bankruptcy was declared. In 1978 a couple of business men from Minnesota and Wisconsin bought the remaining King’s outlets, which by then numbered only 17.