Monday, July 13, 2015

K is for King's Family Restaurants

On June 22, King’s Family Restaurants broke my heart.

I first discovered King’s on one of my many trips to writers conferences and conference board meetings in western Pennsylvania. If memory serves me (And really, why would it finally now?) my husband was with me and we stayed overnight at a motel. We could walk to King’s from the motel, so we did.

I've never actually eaten the Angry Mob.
We found the food to be tasty and well-priced, and that day I began my romance with Frownie Brownie, a feature of many King’s desserts. Each brownie had fudgy icing and a sad face. If you bought a dozen, they came packaged as a Pity Party. You could get an individual sundae built on the brownie, or a ginormous, decadent mass of brownies and ice cream to share with your depressed friends. It was called the Angry Mob.

I heard Frownie Brownie was created to answer Eat ‘n’ Park’s smiley cookies. That resonated with me. Don’t tell me, “Have a nice day!” I’ll have a bad day if I want to. Now hand me a brownie before I hurt you.

My traveling writer friends and I visited King’s whenever we could. You know you have a good friend when she realizes she’s driven past King’s and makes an illegal U turn on Route 80 to get you there. 

A generic Frownie Brownie,
not the one who sleeps in my bed.
When I traveled west during the school year, I brought back a Pity Party for my students. One October the brownies had pink icing, because apparently even Frownie supports breast cancer research. I eventually owned 2 Frownie tee shirts and even a plush Frownie Brownie. 

Once a sweet student sent money along to buy a plush Frownie for a fellow student. He was elated and discovered Frownie is washable after accidentally spraying him with the heavily scented body spray young teen boys use.

When I broke my ankles, my friend baked and decorated her own version of Frownie Brownies and brought them to the hospital. Yes, the same friend who made the illegal U turn.

A generic Frownie tee shirt,
not the one I wear.
As you can see, I had become a Frownie Brownie evangelist, spreading the good news of yumminess, comfort, and calories. I amassed a cultish following for King’s among people who’d never eaten there.

Then on June 22, King’s Family Restaurants broke my heart. My friend and I stopped there on our way to our conference and the hostess handed us thick new menus with a Pittsburgh theme. There was no trace of Frownie. No Pity Party. No Angry Mob. No tee shirts. No tiny plush key chains. No huggable big Frownies. Nothing remained of Frownie. Not even a crumb. 

Ironically, it was the new California owner who re-branded King’s away from Frownie and towards Pittsburgh. You can read the sad story here:

I have nothing against Pittsburgh. Several of my writer friends live there. It’s a good city for poets. I’ve never been there, but I’m pretty sure it’s not as tasty as a Pity Party. If I think about it too much, I become as irate as an Angry Mob.

On the way home from conference, my friend and I stopped at Eat 'n' Park. We had a nice day.

"Smile, though your heart is breaking..."


  1. I can't even tell you how the hearts of myself and many other truckers were broken when they took away our Pity Parties. I've signed the Bring Back Frownie petition, but so far (alas) to no avail.