Remembering date nut bread

A retro dinner the other night (my Mother made Swiss steak, remember that?) made me wantDate nute bread from old recipeDate nut bread recipe from old cook book to have something I have not had in a good 20 years:  date nut bread.  I have no idea if this was popular all over the country, but it was in New York City when I was a kid in the 1960’s.  Chock full o’Nuts coffee shops sold date nut bread and cream cheese sandwiches.  By the very early 1980’s, when most of the shops had already closed, there were still a few hanging on, and there was one at 116th & Broadway – across from Columbia University – that kept me alive for all those late-night classes with coffee and date nut bread, which, if you dropped it, would have broken your foot.  If you check their site (they still hawk their brand of coffee, though I have no idea how many times the company changed hands) you can hear Mrs. Black singing the jingle about Chock full o’Nuts being “the heavenly coffee” (click on the old commercial links), but they don’t have the story there of the Blacks’ nasty divorce.  Since this is not the kind of thing you’ll find in a new cookbook, I checked out one my old ones and, sure enough.  I love old cookbooks because you’re likely to find names and notes written in them — and stains — and it gives me a feeling of continuity when I think that perhaps a woman back in 1952 was making the same recipe and had dropped her 1/4 pound of butter on page 869, only for me to find it in 2009.  The chosen book was Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking (Chicago:  J. G. Fergusen and Associates, 1952), whose recipe turned out a winner of a loaf, if a bit less dense than I’m used to.  Now for the cream cheese….

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