Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Freezette, Biff Burger, and the 1950s

By , 22 February, 2010, 6 Comments

With an official 100 year birthday right around the corner, there is so much to celebrate in Zephyrhills! One of our goals in Countdown is to capture a few glimpses of unique components of our town’s culture! With no disregard for the rich economic and political annals of olden times, we find that accounts of everyday happenings sometimes capture the spirit of the times. Many of the ZHS alumni who shared stories from their high school experiences, conveyed anecdotes from particularly the 1950’s through 1970’s. They mentioned the Freezette or the Biff Burger. Have you noticed that memories may be connected with the taste palate?  Does the thought of a broiled burger smothered with special sauce, a curled biff dog, and an orange fountain transport you back to a more carefree era? Well, read on!

In Zephyrhills, the Freez-Ette was located at 5841 Gall Boulevard where Mari’s Donut shop is now located.  The owners of the Freezette were Mabel & Louis Loysch. Their children are graduates of Zephyrhills High School. Their son, Louie Loysch, is a member of the Class of 1954 and currently works for the City of Zephyrhills. Their daughter, Linda (Loysch) Trottier of Plant City, is a graduate from the Class of 1963. Does anyone have any pictures of the Freezette they would like to share?

The Biff Burger was located at 5963 Gall Blvd. where ABC Pizza is now located. These restaurants were the forerunners of the fast food restaurants that occupy Zephyrhills today. After a football game, a trip to Biff Burger was in store.

Biff Burger

Biff Burger

Biff stood for “Best in Fast Food” and was a well-known national drive-in franchise initiated in Clearwater in 1956. They specialized in a unique char-broiled taste derived from a “roto-broiled” process. The original restaurants were portable metal facilities that featured ‘walk-up’ or ‘drive-in’ service while table seating was provided outdoors. One St. Petersburg location is the last one in operation. The sauce:

For your convenience, this recipe has been scaled down from that which was made in large quantities in 5 gallon buckets at the drive-ins.

1 large can Ketchup   (#10 Can, 115 oz)

2/3 to 1 cup Mustard

1 cup Sweet Pickle Relish

1/6 cup or 1 1/3 ounces Salt

Pinch Ground Ginger

2 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Biff Burger and Freez-Ette Memories from ZHS Alumni

The Biff burgers were different.  They were grilled and had a special sauce. Freezette was the only drive-in that existed in Zephyrhills; we went their after movies and baseball games…Phyllis (Geiger) Locke-Debien ‘54

Fantastic shakes and delicious burgers at Biff. All the older teens, the cool ones, were at Freez-Ette.I loved to go there after band events and games. They had the best food and I’ve never tasted a burger as good since then…Suzie (Hill) Pippin ‘73

Biff Burger: I loved those burgers with the special sauce.  Also I believe they originated tater tots. The chocolate milkshakes were the best. I also remember going to the Freezette after Band Practice on Thursday nights with a boy.  It was cool eating outside in your car with your window holding the tray of delicious burgers, fries and shakes…Clereen (Morrill) Brunty ‘73

The only place to get a burger, and they had the individual juke boxes at every table.  Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison is the one song that comes to mind!…Melody (Wheeler) Williford ‘78

The Tater Tots were great!…Sharon (Geiger) Reeves ‘80

This was the only place to go after a game in town. If you wanted to go to one of the other fast food restaurants, say Mc____, the nearest was Plant City …Laura (Heller) Woodham ‘83

Brant Blessing and Mia Bialik

Brant Blessings and Mia Bialik

My sister, Carolyn Baker, worked there for several years.  I remember walking to Biff Burger after elementary school …Dawn Baker ‘85

The Freez-Ette was a great place to sit and watch others drive ‘round & round’ while enjoying a coke…Ann Brooke (Smith) Neukom ‘58

The Freez-Ette was the place we would cruise through to see if anyone wanted to drag race on Fort King or Highway #39 toward Plant City.  I guess I shouldn’t say this, but it was the place everyone went who wanted to drag race…Benny Smith ‘59

Freez-Ette was a very cool place to hang out. It is a shame that teens today don’t have something like it…Lynn (Nichols) Timmons ‘60

Everyone went to the Freezette.  It was so neat to pull up in your car and have the car hop bring your food to you on a tray.  But what I remember the most about the Freezette is going there on break from our Senior car wash.  The car wash was being held at the Methodist Church parking lot and it was our turn to go get something to eat.  So, of course, we went to the Freezette.  I drove my Mom’s car and Howard went with me.  I don’t remember a thing that we ate or what we talked about.  But during our conversation Howard told me that some day he was going to marry me.  I was a bit shocked to hear that statement considering that we weren’t even dating.  Can’t remember just when we did start dating but we were married on December 9, 1972, six months after graduation! He obviously knew what he was talking about…Carol (McLeod) & Howard Reeves ‘72

Freez-Ette had the  best cole slaw; well worth the drive…Diane (Clements) Vilas ‘65

Neon lights… Rose (Potwin) McCarter ‘78

Paper drinking straws…Sharon (Geiger) Reeves ‘80

Are you kidding?  Who could forget the BBQ squish burgers and tater tots?  I had to track down one of the remaining BB in St. Petersburg and take my daughter and a friend out for lunch to enjoy the experience…Anonymous

So why reminisce about these culinary establishments?  Well, perhaps they represent an era of“Happy Days,” when the rock and roll generation began to come of age at ZHS. Similar to the popular television sitcom which featured this decade, Happy Days, there was a real sense of optimism.

In regard to cheerfulness, the motto of the class of 1950 was “Not At The Top—But Climbing” and 1956-“As Tomorrow Dawns.”  The school annual, Zephilsco, instituted the annual ritual of crowning the king and queen of the yearbook in a renowned surprise ceremony.  Examples of the yearbook royalty were: 1958—Felton Howard and Margaret Nelson; 1957—LeNore Lincoln and Paul Canady; 1956—Sarah Peck and Lamar Massey. The class of 1950 was excited to resurrect the annual ZHS alumni reunion as an opportunity for ZHS alumni and friends to get-together and reminisce about their experiences.

The school safety patrol was born and played an important role throughout the decade as a service club. Annual ceremonies in which the safety patrol members received their AAA patrol badges and handbooks were significant.  For example, in 1955–“James Jarrett, Jr., as captain headed the 26-member ZHS Safety Patrol in receiving obligations of office in the school auditorium.  Sam A. Bennett representing the Tampa Motor Club was in charge of the impressive installation ceremony.”

Other significant institutions during this decade include the PTA. In 1955, the PTA put out a decree to the area parents to attend the regular meetings. They presented monthly sessions and entertainment. Jean Murphy, a well-known community member/teacher often sang solos for the events. In 1954, the PTA hosted a special tea for the faculty and announced a membership goal of 500 parents for the year.  The curriculum innovations were in great part, parent-driven.

Also significant as an institution was the Future Farmers Association (FFA) for boys.  Nathan Geiger was an officer for several years, and not only did ZHS do quite well in the county tractor driving competitions, they also won many awards in the guitar-picking, band competitions for FFA boys as well.

The Zephyrhills News instituted a weekly student-written column entitled “School Daze,” and a budding journalism student reported on weekly events at the high school and often editorialized on happenings.  Some were Shirley Dixon in 1954 and Margie Braden in 1958. We are so delighted that this institution was re-established in 2009 by Danny Linville.

Sports continued to thrive. The ZHS baseball park was dedicated in 1957.  In 1952, ZHS moved into first place in the West Coast Conference in baseball. The quarterback club that was formed in 1941, boasted a membership of 100 in 1956 and worked on funding bleachers and lighting for Krusen Field which had been dedicated a few years earlier.  They also began the institution of taking the football players on an annual trip to see the University of Florida play a football game in Gainesville—quite a treat for the boys!

Krusen Field

Krusen Field

Students from this decade report that it snowed in Zephyrhills in 1957 and students were permitted to frolic in the schoolyard in the newly fallen and unusual snow of that winter.

Graduations during the decade were almost exclusively held at the Home Theater, that is the movie theater on Fifth Avenue in downtown Zephyrhills. The 1959 graduation at the end of the decade ended the tradition by being hosted at the brand new Zephyrhills Municipal Auditorium.  For example in 1958 the News reported that “following commencement exercises at the Home Theater last evening, Mrs. Robert Campbell, as general chairman of the party, plans for a dance at the American Legion Hall, immediately following graduation, a midnight show at the Home Theater, a swim party in the municipal pool and breakfast at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall.” It was most definitely happy days for ZHS.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 1, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

6 Responses {#}
  • Cynthia Heffelfinger Allen

    I agree with the people about the Biff Burger. They were the best. I craved them when I got pregnant with my first child in 1973. The Freezette was the place to be seen on a Friday night. We would go so we could see who was dating who. That was in 1969-1971.

  • Brenda Sue (Susie Brown) Burns

    Who could forget the Freezette? The pink ladies (drink) and the devil crab? Car hops and the music…after band practice on Thursday nights and after football games on Friday!! Yep totally “Happy Days” for more than one reason!!!!

  • Frank Carroll

    Do you hold the copyright for the photograph of the Biff-Burger? I would like to add it to my blog regarding small towns in the US, specifically the fast food section.

    Thank you for your assistance.

  • Jim L. Gill Sr "Class of "64"

    Devil Crab was my favorite, but the burgers were a close second! Not sure why that type drive-in does not do well today.

  • Tina Richardson Sirmans

    Always went to the Freez Ette after school (Bryan Elem) and through the out the week. Our parents were young then and went there and seen their friends too. I remember the cars parked all the back to the hwy. 3 rows. Best food, good times and lots of memories.

  • Tina Richardson Sirmans

    Best place to eat, even after school snacks. Our parents took us there through out the week and they seen their friends too. I remember the cars parked in 3 rows all the way to the hwy. Good times and best memories.

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