The Woolworth Diet

by Anne Bennett on May 12, 2015

Growing up is a complicated process, fraught with memories, both good and bad, of pivotal learning experiences. This is one of my most heartfelt memories, first published on hungry poodle in 2009: the many hours I spent sitting at the Woolworth lunch counter.


In the middle of the menu, under Fountain Features, is the Super Jumbo Banana Split, 39 cents and worth every penny.

My best friend in 1962 was Kathy McCullough. Kathy had the most outrageous carrot-colored hair that required orange-juice-can rollers to tame. My hair was very short and brown. We didn’t look very much alike except for one obvious feature–we were both “chubby”.

On hot summer days we would meet up at my house and plan a diet. We were always planning diets. Most of the other girls in our class weren’t chubby, so unbeknownst to us, we were pre-teen diet pioneers.

If kids wanted to go anywhere in 1962, we had to walk or ride our bikes. Kathy and I were not bikers. But despite our aversion to exercise, we regularly walked across the fields behind my house to the Woolworth’s, where we ensconced ourselves at the lunch counter.

We spent many collective hours at that counter planning an all-out assault on our weight. The planning day was always the best, because we celebrated “going on a diet” with a Woolworth’s banana split. This pre-diet treat was our last hurrah before diet abstinence. We would sit there, thoughtfully spooning bites of ice cream into our mouths as we chatted in the most sincere fashion about what we were going to eat on our diet beginning the next day.

Forty odd years later Kathy remembers us sitting at the same counter the day after our diet began, somberly sipping glasses of iced tea from straws. I have no recollection of the iced tea days. I think I blocked it out. I only remember banana splits. Lots of them. We went on a new diet almost every week, and of course, we had to make plans.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda May 8, 2009 at 2:22 am

…er, I’ve been known to make a plan at Cinzetti’s….

admin May 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Ah, Not the same as the Woolworth counter! Plus, our banana splits were only 39 cents! Can’t beat that!

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