New Orleans Traditions Revisited

I’ll Always Remember That Time…

Around the world, history tends to repeat itself. Well, in New Orleans, history never really goes away in the first place. Iconic slogans, brands, and landmarks are at the forefront of memories and stories.

In honor of every childhood memory in New Orleans, we’ve gathered the 4 New Orleans Traditions that have a permanent place in our hearts and minds.

4 New Orleans Traditions We’ll Never Forget

1. K&B Drug Store And “K&B” Purple

K&B (Katz and Besthoff) was a drug store chain that rooted itself in New Orleans and in the hearts of many locals. Since its founding in 1905, K&B became a signature drug store that offered quality prices for quality products that sported the memorable purple color. As it expanded across the United States Gulf Coast, the purple stores created a regional chain.

New Orleans Traditions - K&B Drugstore

K&B Purple, seen on nearly everything in the store, from the shopping carts to the K&B brand products (including logo ice chests and garbage cans) and employee uniforms, truly branded the K&B experience—a friendly store that offers options suited for the King of Carnival, and the convenience wasn’t bad either. “K&B Purple” became well known as a descriptive term in local lexicon—just as a car can be “forest green,” New Orleanians still describe a particular shade of purple as “K&B Purple.”

Even though K&B was purchased by Rite Aid in 1997, the purple sign has remained in the minds and hearts of many locals, who now purchase vintage shirts sporting the old K&B logo in remembrance.

2. Eating McKenzie’s Turtles

McKenzie’s Bakery and their pastries (especially the Turtles) have been a constant memory that refuses to fall into the past. While K&B physically disappeared, this chain of pastry shoppes is still in business today…even though they’re managed by an old competitor—with limited access to original recipes and ingredients.

Founded in 1924 by Henry McKenzie in Uptown New Orleans, McKenzie’s Bakery was sold to Daniel Entringer who kept the bakery’s name and grew the business throughout New Orleans with McKenzie as manager. When McKenzie died, Entringer passed the management down to his sons. Donald and Gerald expanded the company into a chain that had marvelous staying power until a bad health review in 2000 brought the chain to bankruptcy.

TasteeMcKenzies

The McKenzie’s Pastry Shoppes might have been shut down but the logo and recipe rights were eventually awarded to Tastee Donuts (a long-time rival) which then re-opened several shoppes around New Orleans holding both brand names, and selling a good selection of the original pastries.

While not many things last forever, McKenzie’s donuts, turtles, blackout cake, buttermilk drops and the king cakes that started the New Orleans King Cake craze have held a steady place in the hearts of many locals and continue to satisfy their taste buds.

3. Groceries from Schwegmann’s Supermarkets

1869 marked the beginning of change in the grocery world for New Orleans. Garrett and his two brothers, Anthony Schwegmann and Paul Schwegmann, opened the first Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market in the Bywater neighborhood, a store which grew to be 18 super markets in the metro New Orleans area by 1995. While the chain of super markets were wiped out in 1996, the store and its ideals and services were pioneer movements in the development of the modern supermarket.

With around 5,000 employees, Schwegmann’s was the biggest supermarket in the world at one point, selling everything from gourmet food to garden supplies.

SuperMarket-NewOrleans

But the real innovation was the introduction of self-service shopping. With such a massive store, Schwegmann’s began the movement towards our modern self-serving grocery stores (even though it took a while for the concept to catch on). They encouraged customers with a discount to gather their own items from the shelves and bring baskets to the checkout counter. This change doomed the smaller stores that were still abiding by the old tradition of having the proprietors fill each customer’s order.
Now, we don’t even think about it. Self-serve is quick, and liberating.

4. Going to See the Special Man


I say, I say, I say, Frankie and Johnny’s is a good note to end on: Let ‘em have it. Don’t fret over holding on to the good memories. They’ve had a part in creating who we are today, so they never leave us.

These iconic New Orleans memories and cultural highlights create what we know of as New Orleans culture. Our tendency to mix, our love of the past and our hopes for the future are all about living in the present. We keep memories and continue to push forward to the new memories. What will be the next New Orleans Tradition? That’s up to you.

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