Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sea Host Restaurant

Several years ago, I was thrilled to uncover some push puppet toys of these fun little sea creature characters. They are dated 1969 and marked "Sea Host". After scouring the web for information on Sea Host, I turned up virtually nothing.

Here's the first push puppet. His name is Ossie Oyster. He seemed like a happy enough little fellow, so I kept him. Then the quest began to find out more about Ossie and this "Sea Host" entity.

Since information regarding Sea Host is very sparse, I'll throw out what I know and hope that others can share information and piece together the mystery.

Here's what I know -- Sea Host was a seafood restaurant chain, locally owned and nationally franchised. It was a subsidiary of Proteus Foods & Industries.

The only dated materials I've located are the push puppets which are dated 1969. Was Sea Host around before 1969? How long after 1969 did it remain in business? Are there any Sea Host restaurants still around? I'm plagued with more questions than answers.

I'll add the fact that I've never seen a Sea Host restaurant, never dined in one and have no fond memories of it at all.

Now, on to the fun stuff! Sea Host's crowning achievement was not their lobster bisque, but rather their legacy of fun but obscure spokes-creatures. In fact a group of six characters represented the restaurant chain, led by a fish named Sylvester C. Host.

  • Sylvester C. Host -- a fish in a chef's hat and leader of the gang
  • Ossie Oyster -- a tiny oyster who wore a beret
  • Mr. Big The Shrimp -- an older shrimp with a large mustache
  • Turtle The Turtle -- a turtle with the least imaginative name
  • Smiley The Crab -- a blue crab who wore glasses
  • Clem The Clam -- a happy clam who wore a rain hat

A full set of six push puppets was created, and here they are.

The Smiley The Crab push puppet is quite spectacular, though I'm partial to Clem The Clam as my favorite Sea Host character.

The next and last find was this give-away comic book which is undated but probably from the late 1960s.

As the comic story goes, Ossie asks Sylvester to help find Clem who they think has been "clam-napped". It turns out to be a ruse to bring Sylvester to his surprise birthday party.

I'll have to wrap up the Sea Host story with that. I've not found any other memorabilia or information about the chain. I do know that Sea Host, Inc. was located at 477 Madison Avenue in New York City.

Blog Readers -- Let me know what you think about these characters and please contribute any information you have about the restaurant or other collectibles. Which of the six sea creatures do you like the best?

Gotta run! A few more pictures are on my Flickr site here.


  1. Ossie's push puppet version doesn't much resemble the comic version does it?

    Clem has got to be the best character of the bunch, but push puppet-wise, I think that Mr. Big looks awesome.

  2. Yes, Mr. Big is a pretty elaborate push puppet.

  3. Great detective work, WW! My gosh - what a bizarre and obscure cartoon mascot series... yet they must have been pretty big to have the budget for comics and toy promos... very odd, but fascinating stuff!

    Thanks for your hard work in unearthing this rarity and sharing it all with us! :-)

  4. Hi,

    I did find This Link, from an archives in Baltimore which apparently has TV News footage of the opening of a Sea Host Restaurant in 1970.. not very useful but it sort of helps with the timeline.

    Cool finds!

  5. Nessa -- Thank you for the link! So now we know that a Sea Host was opened in Baltimore in July of 1970. Maybe this was/is an East Cost chain. Hopefully more people will post comments to piece this together. Thanks.

  6. Thanks for posting this! Nice seeing all that Sea Host in one place.

  7. Leif and Todd -- Thanks for your comments. Did you ever have Sea Host restaurants in your part of the world?

  8. Hi I collect advertisin items, Those're so hard to find, I have 5 kinds except The Smiley The Crab. are those available at the restaurants late 60's ?? If you have any info, let me know, Thanks,

  9. Hi I collect advertising items, Those are so hard to find, I have 5 kinds except the crab, Are those available at the restaurants at that time ??

  10. Just stumbled on this comment thread. My father owned a Sea Host restuarant in Ithaca NY in the late 60's. Jackie Robinson (the former baseball player) came to help him launch the franchise. I remember those toys as a little girl. Thanks for the flashback!

  11. [:::] Sara -- What a cool memory! Thanks for sharing!

  12. There was a Sea Host on Quintard Avenue in Anniston, Alabama in the early 1970's.

  13. There was a Sea Host restaurant on Van Siclen avenue in the East New York section of Brooklyn around 1970. I think it only lasted a year or 2 maybe into 1972 . It was sold and it became Eric's but that enterprise did not last long either.


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