Watchdog journalism from 50 years ago today


* Pulitzer contender? This coffee takedown was actually a three-parter (

From the September 7, 2005 Chronicle:

At times, San Francisco’s attention to matters of the palate takes amusing turns. In what other city would a major daily newspaper put a culinary quest on the front burner — and the front page? The San Francisco Chronicle did, with a February 18, 1963, banner that screamed “A Public Disgrace — The Terrible Coffee in S.F.’s Restaurants.” The story itself was headlined, “A Great City’s People Forced to Drink Swill.”

The crusade continued for several weeks. The results: Street sales of the newspaper soared — and the coffee served in upscale restaurants improved markedly.

* What other newspaper would use a word like “swill” to describe bad coffee in a front-page headline? (