A Nelson & Jeanette favorite: recipe for Tick Tock’s “Sticky Orange Rolls”

Tick Tock’s Sticky Orange Rolls

1 (2 ¼ cup) biscuit mix recipe
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
¼ cup butter

Prepare biscuit dough according to directions. Roll mixture into a rectangle approximately ¼-inch thick. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and cloves. Spread the mixture evenly across the dough. Roll dough jellyroll-style and slice into 9 evenly sized pieces.

Meanwhile, heat undiluted orange juice concentrate, butter and ½ cup sugar and stir until completely blended. Pour juice mixture into 8-inch square or round baking dish. Place sliced dough rolls, cut sides down, across juice mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve while hot. Makes 9 rolls.


Backstory: in the early days of my research, I was taken to Tick Tock restaurant in Hollywood. It was a Hollywood landmark restaurant and I was introduced to Arthur Johnson, the owner. I interviewed him and he not only explained that Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy used to eat there fairly frequently in their heyday but he even showed me “their table.” The restaurant served homestyle, hearty food with huge portions. The restaurant was most famous for the basket of Sticky Orange Rolls placed on your table. Johnson said that Nelson in particular loved them.

Johnson pointed out that while Jeanette picked at her food, Nelson ate heartily and would happily finish up her food. In addition, anyone questioning their close relationship only had to watch them eating off the same fork and sharing food. Johnson remembered them generally in a happy mood with Jeanette giggling a lot and Nelson the jokester. One time he remembered they’d had a quarrel or discussed something serious (but no, he didn’t know what it was about). Sometimes, Johnson explained, they would order food-to-go which THEY picked up on their way to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The restaurant prepared to-go meals for the two of them on several occasions. Their relationship was no secret, in other words. When I first went to the restaurant and asked about Jeanette and Nelson, the family knew all about their relationship and insisted I speak with Arthur for more details.

When our club was formed, we had some early luncheons at the restaurant – where fans took turns eating at “their” table. As the attached article states, they served a tremendous amount of food! I remember that after you ate the Sticky Rolls and appetizers, they then brought out sherbet to cleanse your palette. (Believe me, you were already full!) Then onto your main course and delicious homemade desserts. The price was quite reasonable for what they served you.

Johnson died in 1980 and we at some point moved the LA meetings over to the USO (courtesy of Bob Hope) and had our luncheons catered in. The whole area around Tick Tock and Hollywood Blvd in general became very seedy and the restaurant suffered and ultimately closed.

The recipe and details of Tick Tock restaurant were found in Hollywood du Jour by Betty Goodwin c. 1993.