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Stefan Olsson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Swedish Subculture Keeping 1950s America Alive

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Stefan Olsson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Going to a raggare meet feels like stepping out of a time machine. Attendees sporting slicked-back hair and leather jackets roll up in vintage hot rods, ready to spend the day drinking beer from the can and listening to Elvis Presley. The scene could be mistaken for the American South in the 1950s, until someone opens their mouth and starts speaking Swedish.

Raggare (from the Swedish "raga," which means "to pick up girls") is one of Scandinavia’s more bizarre subcultures. It originated with Swedish teens in the 1950s as that generation’s form of rebellion. Following World War II, the neutral country was in good economic shape compared to the rest of Europe: American cultural imports flowed across the border and lower class citizens finally had the money to buy them. Rockabilly music infiltrated Sweden, and more importantly, hot rods became popular. As American cars gained favor with the youth, so did the American greaser aesthetic.

Stefan Olsson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

But raggare differed from its U.S. counterpart in one major way. Instead of fading away from the public consciousness, it persisted as the decades progressed. In 1978, the annual Power Big Meet began as a place for raggas to get together and show off their retro vehicles. Today, the event in Västerås, Sweden is the world’s biggest classic car show.

Though the subculture is far from obscure (their numbers were estimated at half a million in 2009) it’s certainly lost the youthful vibe it had in the 1950s. Many of today's members are older and can afford to buy the cars that have shot up in value in the past 50 years. But if young raggare devotees feel excluded by the high prices of vintage cars and Swedish gas, they do have options—painting an old Volvo black and bringing it to the meet isn’t unheard of.

Stefan Olsson via Flickr// CC BY 2.0
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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between a Street, a Road, and an Avenue?
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Depending on where you live, your address will end in a different designation. You might live on 10th Street, or Meadow Lane, or Red Fox Road. Maybe those throughways intersect a road with a name like Washington Avenue or Park Place. Why the difference? There’s actually a method to the road-naming madness that goes beyond just the whims of urban designers.

Just like there are defined factors that distinguish a highway from a regular city street, there are characteristics that make streets, roads, and avenues distinct from one another. The difference between names like C Street and Avenue B comes down to variables like the size of the path, what surrounds it, and how it intersects with other roads.

A plain old “road,” for instance, is a general term for any throughway that connects two points. Like a square is also a rectangle, streets and avenues are types of roads.

“Streets” are public roads that have buildings on both sides. They’re often perpendicular to “avenues,” which historically were grander and wider. These days, the difference tends to be directional.

In Denver, for instance, naming conventions dictate that Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. In Manhattan, it’s the opposite, with “Avenues” running north-south and streets running east-west. This isn’t always the case, though: in Washington, D.C., avenues run diagonal to the street grid.

Oddly enough, avenues and streets can be combined, too. In a naming convention particular to Tucson, Arizona, some roads are “Stravenues,” which run diagonal to the normal north-south/east-west grid. (The U.S. Postal Service recognizes these by the abbreviation “Stra.”)

There are many other kinds of street names, of course. "Boulevards," designed to funnel high-speed traffic away from residential and commercial streets, are even grander than avenues, with trees on either side and a sizable median. Then there are the smaller roads, with names that might feel familiar to anyone who’s driven around a suburban housing tract. A “Way” is a smaller side street that splits off from a road. A “Place” has a dead end, as does a “court,” which usually ends in a cul-de-sac. A “Lane” is narrow, and is usually located in a more remote, rural place. A "Drive" tends to wind around a natural landmark, like a mountain or a lake.

To get a better sense of the visual differences, a video from Vox handily illustrates these principles:

Now, you can look at an address and know plenty about the street without even seeing it. 

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Food
This Gas Station Chain Serves Some of the Best Fried Chicken in the Country
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Montgomery County Planning Commission, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Sometimes finding a truly unforgettable meal means venturing outside your comfort zone. That’s the case at the Royal Farms gas station chain in the mid-Atlantic U.S., where restaurant-quality chicken, biscuits, and potato wedges are served at the same venue where drivers fill up their tanks.

As CBS Baltimore reports, Royal Farms was recently named a gas station restaurant worth a detour by Food & Wine magazine. With locations in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the chain is best known for its "fresh, never frozen" pressure-cooked chicken that’s hand-breaded in a signature spice blend. Another popular menu item is the "western fries"—potato wedges that have been breaded and fried.

As the manager of one Royal Farms in Maryland told CBS Baltimore, his counter sees around 2000 customers for lunch every day. The store is one of at least 178 that have opened in the U.S. since the chain was founded in 1959. More locations, including gas stations in New Jersey, are coming soon.

Royal Farms joins Indian cuisine, barbecue, and Spanish wine and tapas on Food & Wine's list of top gas station eats. For more unexpected places serving noteworthy grub, including a post office, a Honda dealership, and a laundromat, check out our list of the strangest restaurant spots in America.

[h/t CBS Baltimore]

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