King of Prussia, PA: The Gino Giant

What does nostalgia taste like?

For folks in the Philly suburbs, today it tasted like the idealized version of the Gino Giant they have been dreaming of since the regional chain named for one of pro football’s earliest off-field entrepreneurs, Gino Marchetti, ceased to exist in the early ’80s.

For those who braved the opening day crowds it must have truly seemed like “Everybody Goes To Gino’s”.  Others, like me, benefited from the benevolence of co-workers who are lucky enough to have offices within Whopper-throwing distance of the new location on Rt 202 in King of Prussia (across from the King of Prussia Mall – either the Court or the Plaza, I can never remember which is which…the one I’m talking about has the Apple Store).

Is it possible that the Gino Giant would still taste the same after all those years?  Like Lou Reed crooning in the Velvet Underground classic Sweet Jane “Those were different times” and indeed they were.  The fast food landscape in 1982 bears little resemblance to today.  Oh sure, many of the same players are at the top of the charts, but what is offered up now on their plastic trays is worlds apart.  While the market leaders have continued to hone their successful strategy of peddling highly processed foods “designed” to ensure unwavering consistency of taste (while severely minimizing any possibility of food borne illness and/or human error requiring dumping of the product), upstarts like Five Guys and Elevation Burger have blazed a new trail with hand-formed patties cooked fresh (and with accompanying doneness variations).  Where my memory, and this commercial, remind me that Gino’s originally strove to be in the first category, the modern day version aims to compete head-on in the new, more “upscale” genre.

The Giant is still the Giant, a pre-Big Mac era “Big Mac” (not sure if they beat Wright’s Dairy-Rite to the punch, or the countless other joints that back in the day slapped secret Thousand Island-style sauce on top of twin patties, shredded lettuce and double cheese) and I have to say that despite a 20 minute journey in the car, mine held up well.  The meat itself was very tasty (two 1/4 lb beef patties), the sauce perfectly piquant, the shredded lettuce acted as unobtrusive roughage and the American cheese was extra-gooey.  The Giant is served up nicely on a sesame seeded squishy roll and wrapped in paper (hallelujah!).  Visually, it looks identical to a Five Guys cheeseburger , but I’d give Gino’s a bit of a nod because the burger didn’t come with that side order of meat coma which Five Guys always tends to bring on because of the amped up grease quotient (this isn’t necessarily a knock, because as we all know Vitamin-G is an essential part of every growing boy’s diet).  The car ride and the fact that the place was mobbed and required workers to do everything in double-time meant it was less than photogenic by the time it arrived, but taste trumps all in this game. I am eager to sneak over in the near future to test out another and also try their fries and the item besides the Giant that they are most fondly remembered for, their fried chicken.

Welcome back, Gino’s.  We honestly couldn’t have expected you not to change, but in this case change might be a good thing.

Additional notes:

It bugs the heck out of me that the sandwich is called the “Gino Giant” and not the “Gino’s Giant,” yet the chicken version is called the “Gino’s Chicken Giant.”  I am not grammaratarian (should be a word if it isn’t), but man it hurts my brain to type it without the “‘s.”

This 1971 commercial paints a terrifying picture of the effect drinking soda can have on children.  The winded kid at the end telling us to hurry up and get to a store before all of the kites are gone seems ripe for Michael Pollan’s picking.  Bonus at no additional cost to you – awesome mid-Atlantic region accents on the twins at the :10 second mark (love how they say “to go.”).  And for those that might ask, that is not a younger me at the :21 second mark, though I do have those glasses and (before it began to recede) I had that hair.

The Commodore 64 was released in 1982, the year the Gino’s chain was sold to the Marriott Corporation and folded into their Roy Rogers’ business.

Gino’s Burgers & Chicken
611 West DeKalb Pike (Route 202)
King of Prussia, PA

12 thoughts on “King of Prussia, PA: The Gino Giant

  1. Great blog on Gino’s. I have a facebook group called “Everybody Goes to Gino’s” and have linked this to that! Glad you enjoyed the Giant even though it took a while to arrive. The store was was jammed and it was difficult to park!

    • Thanks for dropping by and forwarding on my post to the members of your group. It won’t surprise you to know that this post has quickly become one of the most popular in the history of my site. I think many people are so happy to have Gino’s back in business.

  2. Glad to see you had a good experience. I had the direct opposite. I had the Gino’s chicken sandwich with cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms. What a huge disappointment. Attitude was given when I asked if there was more ice in the back as there was none at the fountain. Machine was working it’s little heart out but nothing. No back up ice machine so I had warm soda. Sandwich came out quick. Unfortunately the chicken was cold and the cheese never melted. There were exactly 2 pieces of grilled onions that were more sweated than grilled. Of the mushrooms…they were chopped and I had maybe 6 little pieces and offered no flavor to the sandwich. The bread was a huge disappointment as it was different than the hamburger rolls and the rolls disintegrated after 2 bites. I tried commenting on the Gino’s site but 5 days later…nothing. The fries totally rocked though. natural cut, hot, crispy and nicely salted. Not good for a place that hasn’t been open more than a month.

    Sad to say it was a $20.32 lesson learned. Gino’s of my memories is still golden. This incarnation has a long way to go.

    • First of all, thanks for finding my blog Audrey.

      Sorry you didn’t have a good experience at Gino’s. I wonder if anything can compete with our collective memories of this joint. That said I am surprised you have found them unresponsive. I thought they did some proactive things right after their launch to address concerns that some people raised.

  3. This is why I am the most disappointed. I’ve sort of gotten used to being the outsider at burger type joints because I don’t like beef. I don’t know much of any burger joints in my area that actually sell turkey burgers. (Elevation Burger IS on my “To Try” list for their vegan burger though.) So far though….still nothing from Gino’s Corporate and the only responses I had at the time from the King of Prussia location was either the snotty answer about the ice and the attitude in the faces of the line cooks. We had a Gino’s about a mile from our home in Norristown back in the 70’s. Our mom would often drop us off there for lunch while she went grocery shopping across the street. Oh my, the memories.

    • You should enjoy Elevation Burger. They have a vegan and a vegetarian burger and both are great (my wife is a vegetarian and our daughter gets excited that there is an option for mommy).

      • Just a follow up.

        Finally got a response from Gino’s. The person who wrote it was more than likely an outsourced worker in another country. To give a hint, here are the first 2 lines of their response. “We appoligize for the delay with the respond. The things are hectic right now with the new store being open.” The rest of the response was basically a ‘come back again and we hope your next time is better’.

        Some things are better left to memories. Gino’s is one of them. I have no love for the current incarnation.

  4. I live in Toronto Canada now , but I grew up in Chester Co. and remember and loved Gino’s , and K of P was a hangout , but someone please confirm or deny the fact that Dom Deluise was the ” Gino Giant ” , this is my memory. And , in as much as my teenage years were somewhat “chemically” enhanced , i would bet money on the fact that Mr. Deluise was the Gino Giant in the company’s print and t.v. advertising. Cheers to Gino’s , and thanks for the memories , and the flavors. Their KFC product will always be the least greasy KFC i have ever eaten.

    • I think Deluise’s character was technically the Gino’s Genie. Thanks for finding the blog and let me know your thought on Harvey’s. I seem to remember it better than some of the commentors on a recent post I wrote.

  5. Dom Deluise was the Gino Genie. The song was:

    So if you want something yummy
    Something really delish
    Just rub your tummy
    And make a wish.

    My two cents about the present incarnation: the home office has answered none of my e-mails. Maybe getting a restaurant started takes up all of their time. I’m glad, though, that I didn’t get an e-mail response like Audrey’s.

  6. The Gino Giant was in my opinion the second best double burger double bun sandwich ever made. The number one was the Ameche Powerhouse. The sandwich was awesome. Both the Powerhouse and the Giant were and still are light years ahead of the Big Mac which was a bad copy of these two burger sandwiches.

    The Powerhouse’s sauce was a little bit different then the Giant sauce. Boy do I miss the Powerhouse. I wish someone would recreate the Ameche Powerhouse and the entire Ameche drive-in restaurant chain.

    Another great at Ameche’s was their freshly prepared onion rings. They were prepared from scratch on site as orders were taken. No one and I mean on one has ever come close to duplicating them.

  7. had the gaint, highly disapointed not the original triple bun giant rapped in cellophane, until you get the original back I don’t think your comeback is going to make it . Must people I talked to remember the old gaint and the people that tried your new version,again highly disappointed

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