Dad touted “all-electric kitchen” decades ago
by Shannon Tangonan | Aug. 27, 2020
When my parents turned 80 years old in early August, I pulled out some of their tattered photo albums looking for snapshots to include in a slide show for our family’s virtual celebration.
The photographs, mostly black and white, were neatly stuck in plastic sleeves. I took photos of dozens of photos. Page after page you’d see my parents with a baby, then with a toddler and a baby, then a youngster, toddler and a baby. You get the picture. I am the youngest of the five kids.
At the tail end of one of the green three-ring binder albums was a newspaper clipping. As I took it out and unfolded it, I marveled at my serendipitous find. The clipping was an ad for Hawaiian Electric, maybe from the 1970s, singing the praises of an all-electric kitchen at Kenny’s Burger House. In it was a picture of my handsome father, Richard Tangonan, who was the drive-in’s manager at the time.
“Thanks to modern, trouble-free, all-electric cooking, orders are filled fast! Juicy hamburgers served up with all their succulent meat goodness sealed in by speedy electric grills.” Man, who wouldn’t want an all-electric kitchen after reading that?
The ad goes on: “Furthermore, flameless electricity is clean, cool, economical, too. No wonder Kenny’s Burger House insists on an all-electric kitchen. Shouldn’t you?”
The ad made me nostalgic. I remember catching the bus with my mom from Ewa Beach to Kalihi where Kenny’s was located. We’d arrive in the afternoon when dad would be at the tail end of his shift and we’d ride home with him in the family station wagon. Of course, at that time I had no idea that those awesome burgers and fries were produced in an all-electric kitchen.
When I showed my dad the clipping he just smiled and tried to figure out when the ad appeared in the newspaper. My dad would eventually leave Kenny’s to start a new venture with my mom — a lunch wagon serving up local food at Campbell Industrial Park. They would run Sassy Kassy’s for 27 years parked near the Aloha refinery. You can read about it here.
Call it irony or destiny. That their daughter would become a spokesperson for Hawaiian Electric nearly a half-century later is pretty cool. Maybe my dad somehow planted that seed. And if you’re wondering … today my parents have an all-electric kitchen — and so do I.
Shannon Tangonan is a manager of external corporate communications at Hawaiian Electric Company.