I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex.

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buffetbuster
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2010/07/20 16:02:42 (permalink)

I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex.

There are times when I get home from a trip, I want to write about one or two places that were visited, but don't have the time or inclination to do a full report.  When that happens, I'm just going to pour them into this thread.  So, this is going to be a mixture of restaurants from all over the place.
 
This past weekend, I was driving around (mostly) Iowa.  One of the reasons for going to Iowa was to revisit a real favorite, Wilton Candy Kitchen

in Wilton, Iowa.  Wilton is a town of just under 3,000 people and is located a short distance from I-80.
 
I walked in the door just a little after 10:00 on Saturday morning and owner George Nopoulos was already holding court.  There was a couple dressed in biker gear at the counter, while two guys in overalls/work clothes stood behind them.  They were all chatting and listening to George's stories, so I grabbed a counter seat and quickly joined in the conversation.  The youngest guy had only been married for a month and everyone was quick to give him advice, with plenty of laughs being shared.  The biker couple explained they were both on their third marriages, second one to each other!  While this was going on, George was eating what he called his "morning pick-me-up", a couple scoops of ice cream with hot fudge sauce on it.  At one point, he stopped, looked at the group and said, "I'm not saying it's good, (pause).....but it sure ain't bad!" and winked at me.  I felt like I was with Burt Lancaster in Field of Dreams!
 
George asked me what I wanted, so I started inquiring what was in some of his mixed sodas.  They have quite a list on the mirror. 

He patiently described each one, usually answering with some sort of a joke.  Once I heard the hadacol was mixed with vanilla syrup and root beer, I went for that.  George poured out the different syrups in just the right amount

and expertly mixed them together.  Needless to say, it tasted just like a first-rate cream soda.  As for the name, George explained, "I hadacol it something!"  Here is my drink

with George enjoying his "morning pick-me-up" in the background.
 
It was at about this point that it came up in conversation that George was now 90 years old.  90!  Unbelievable!  And he still comes to work everyday, making his own ice cream.  Astonishing!  I did ask him what his secret to longevity was and he said to never stop moving.  He said if he stopped moving, he would dead in a year.  Don't expect George to ever retire, which is a great thing for the town of Wilton and Roadfooders everywhere.
 
The only thing in town older than George is the Candy Kitchen itself.  The building goes all the way back to 1856

and it is recognized by some as the oldest soda fountain the US.  How much of it is original, I have no idea.  But, I can't imagine it has changed too much over the years.  Some photos from the inside:





 
Wilton Candy Kitchen has to be one of the bigger tourist attractions in eastern Iowa.  And some famous people have stopped by.  Brooke Shields was here in 1991 and Gregory Peck in 1995.  There are signs on the wall, including photos,

of their visits, with more signs indicating which booths they sat in.  I loved the story the one farmer told, how we was riding his motorcycle through town and saw a woman standing next to her car.  "I said to myself, hey, that looks like Brooke Shields!"  I think you needed to hear the way he said to appreciate how funny it was.  BTW, Brooke Shields did lock her keys in the car while she was in town.
 
The rest of the crowd left, which left just George and I.  Time to order my sundae.  Since I had my usual favorite, a hot fudge sundae, just an hour earlier at Lagomarcino's in Moline, I went another direction and had the creme de menthe.  Now earlier, when I ordered my soda, George grabbed a paper cup.  Since those don't make nearly as good a photo, I asked if he could use a glass instead.  He happily obliged.  With the sundae, he went ahead and grabbed a paper cup.  I didn't have the heart to ask him to use one of the glass bowls.  At the age of 90, if he wants to cut down on the amount of dishes that need washed, who am I to say otherwise?  Here is my sundae.

The mint topping was pretty standard from a jar, but that homemade vanilla ice cream was especially creamy and delicious.  While I ate my sundae, I watched George continue to work.  Here is a shot of him making the marshmallow topping.

 
Thelma Nopoulos, George's wife of 60 years walked in and was all dressed up.  She greeted me and explained her clothes by saying she was headed to a funeral.  When George found out that it was a good distance away, he decided to close the store so he could drive her himself.  So, I grabbed a 150 year anniversary coffee cup and a postcard and everything added up to just under $11.00 bucks.  Not bad!  I asked if they had time to pose for a photo and Thelma instantly became the Iowa version of Fellini, directing us behind the fountain, with George's hand on one of the handles. 

She has done this before!  In case you are wondering, based on that photo, "Is buffetbuster that big or is George that small?"  The answer is yes and yes.  They were also happy to pose together for one last shot before they closed up.  Here is the happy couple of 60 years!

 
Ice cream-wise, there are better soda fountains in the country, although the ice cream here is very good.  Atmosphere-wise, this place is hard to beat.  George is every bit as talented an entertainer as he is a mixologist.  Photos can't really convey just how charming this Roadfood institution is.  If you are ever in eastern Iowa, this place is a must stop!  But, make sure you call first, since the hours really are at the whim of the owners.
 
Wilton Candy Kitchen
310 Cedar Street
Wilton, Iowa
563-732-2278
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/151/wilton-candy-kitchen
post edited by buffetbuster - 2010/07/21 09:00:13
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 16:15:55 (permalink)
    One more photo I meant to include. The local high school girl's volleyball team incorporated the Wilton Candy Kitchen into their team poster/schedule, which I think was cool.

    I particularly like the "We Don't Do Soft Serve."
    #2
    Nancypalooza
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 16:16:32 (permalink)
    Awww, that is an adorable story!  I love his shop, and that banana split sign especially.  Hadacol, LOL.
    #3
    MiamiDon
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 17:25:57 (permalink)
    That is so cool!

    We don't do softserve! 
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    joerogo
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 18:03:23 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster,
     
    You did it agian!  Excellent, excellent trip report on The Wilton Candy Kitchen.  You have a knack for finding and reporting on that one of a kind place. 
     
    I guess you could say The Wilton Candy Kitchen is the CPR of ice cream 


    #5
    Ahi Mpls.
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 19:55:59 (permalink)
     Oh this is wonderful!  So very very roadfoody.  
               Check the mirror in the picture that the lovely Thelma took....A taped up picture of George seems to be waving at you!     That dame really knows how to take a picture.  
    #6
    Greymo
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 20:36:08 (permalink)
    The picture of this couple  has to be one  of my  favorites........Thank you
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    tedlovesdogs
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/20 21:38:32 (permalink)
    Primo post--what a splendid tribute to a wonderful couple and their shared passions. Thanks!
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    douginvirginia
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 06:33:11 (permalink)
    BB, what an outstanding report! You truly captured the essence of the place, both in photos and prose. Made me feel like I was there.
    #9
    mayor al
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 06:42:57 (permalink)
    I wish some others would learn from your 'style' of reporting. This is an outstanding review of a Landmark Roadfood Stop. Thank You, Cliff.
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 08:09:48 (permalink)
    joerogo
    I guess you could say The Wilton Candy Kitchen is the CPR of ice cream 
    Joe, I like that comparison.  Although the food at Wilton Candy Kitchen is really, really good, what you end up remembering most is the experience itself.  Like every visit to Charlie's Pool Room, I walked out just feeling good that places like this still exist.
     
    Thanks to everyone for the kind comments!
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 08:46:32 (permalink)
    Beautiful! It's been nearly forty years since we first accidentally happened upon this place in the afterglow of Iowa pork chops and sour cream raisin pie at the old White Way Cafe in nearby Durant, and nothing has changed! George looks a little older, but in fine fettle. I wonder if those hot fudge-topped morning pick-me-ups are the secret of his good health?
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    ken8038
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 12:40:23 (permalink)
    Terrific report on a terrific place. Thanks so much for a trip to small town Iowa.

    Rock On:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz1N7I9ePtk
    #13
    mr chips
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 13:58:03 (permalink)
    Terrific report. terrific pictures. Thanks again for sharing and for filing reports that capture the essence of roadfood.
    post edited by mr chips - 2010/07/26 21:27:05
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    icecreamchick
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 14:01:30 (permalink)
    That's a great reason to visit Iowa! What a wonderful place! 
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 15:35:15 (permalink)
    Found a nice video on Wilton Candy Kitchen:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8611088022993160212#
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/21 16:20:33 (permalink)
    buffetbuster -

    You've really outdone yourself on this one...great write-up on an even greater place!  I feel like I was there!
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 16:24:51 (permalink)
    If things had gone according to plan, I would have been eating lobster rolls, whoopie pies and blueberry pie in Maine with wanderingjew.  But some big problems popped up at work and prevented me from taking the trip.  But, the weekend was not a total loss.  There are some places in Southeast Ohio I have had my eye on for a while now, so I took a day trip down to do some exploring.
     
    One of the restaurants I visited was Etta's Lunchbox Cafe


    Besides being a small restaurant, it is also part general store and part lunchbox museum.  It is located on OH-56, a little more than a hour southeast of Columbus, not too far from Athens.  The street address says New Plymouth, but it is closer to the town of Starr.  In other words, it is in the middle of nowhere!
     
    When I pulled up, there were four corvettes sitting outside.  When you walk in, several mismatched tables and chairs sit off to the right, while the general store is to the left.  

    A large group all sat at two of the mismatched tables pulled next to each other.  I sat at a large round wooden table in the corner.  Both a man and a woman greeted me warmly and gave me a menu.  They do have a large roster of hoagies/subs and several Italian dishes for dinner, but the sandwiches part of the menu interested me the most.  

    How can you not love a place that serves spam, bologna and pb&j?  Unable to resist something called Hobo Ham Steak, I went with that.
     
    I am going to go ahead and apologize for my subpar food photos now.  It was a real battle (and I'm not sure why), but my food photos just did not turn out well.  The first thing to arrive was a cup of chili,

    which I ordered instead of their other soup, beef vegetable.  The chili was on the thin side, with beans and some of the largest chunks of meat I've ever seen in chili.  It was mildly spicy, with good flavor.  I would get it again.  The Hobo Ham Steak was up next. 


    That is some really thick cut bologna!  Brought on nicely toasted bread and topped with mustard, lettuce, cheese, pickle and onions, this was a sloppy delicious sandwich.  For some reason, a bologna sandwich seemed the perfect thing to order at this humble cafe.
     
    While I was eating, my waiter Tim (a dead ringer for Geoffrey Rush), who also happens to be one of the owners, sat down at the piano and played The Eagles Desperado

    Hey, dinner and a show! 
     
    I was all set to order a slice of pie for dessert (they had homemade apple or cherry), but after hearing the description for the strawberry shortcake, I went with that.  Now, strawberry shortcake, for me, is one of those dishes that always sounds better in theory than it does on a plate in front of you.  Growing up in my house, strawberry shortcake was fresh strawberries, with a minimum of the strawberry glaze/compote, over store bought angel food cake.  I am almost always disappointed whenever this dessert is delivered to me in a restaurant.  Here is the version I was served here: 

    The strawberries did taste nice and fresh, but there was just too much of the gooey compote.  And the cake itself had a strange grainy taste.  I should have stuck to the original plan and gone with pie.
     
    Time to look through the lunchbox museum.  Here is the entrance

    and you can see, that is a fairly large room full of these collectors items.  I started looking through the huge collection and this really is a walk through American pop culture.  Some of the lunchboxes:



    Tim came back and gave me very informative and amusing tour that was well worth the visit here alone.

    Asked how these were all accumulated, he told me it was 25+ years of visiting garage sales and flea markets.  As a kid, I remember having a Johnny Quest lunch box, before graduating onto Scooby Doo.  But, my favorite lunch boxes were these:

    How many first graders were sent off to school with a Hooters or a Cheech & Chong's "Up in Smoke" lunch box?  I think you can expect a call from the principal for that!
     
    Etta's Lunchbox Cafe
    35960 OH-56
    New Plymouth, OH
    740-380-0736
     
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=322276002210&ref=search&sid=611356765.1882829763..1&v=info
     
    Anybody else remember what lunchbox they had?
     
    And I did find this short video on youtube of Tim giving a similar tour.
     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjlaIRRaH8I
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2010/07/26 16:31:38
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 16:44:20 (permalink)
    Oh my god!  I'm pretty sure I had the Welcome Back Kotter lunchbox, but I would have given my seven year old eye teeth for the Six Million Dollar Man or even the Space: 1999 lunchboxes.

    Aside: 1999 was *nothing* like the show said it was supposed to be.

    I disagree about the pictures; the one of the bologna sandwich is particularly good I think.  Nice place to have lunch!
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 17:24:21 (permalink)
    You know what I LOVE.  The Wilton Candy Kitchen.  Look at the poster announcing:

    "BROOKE SHIELDS" WAS HERE.  Was that really "her" or "Boy George" with bushier eyebrows.  Thus the "quotes"...  They didn't have any doubts about GREGORY PECK though. 
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 17:51:33 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    If things had gone according to plan, I would have been eating lobster rolls, whoopie pies and blueberry pie in Maine with wanderingjew.  But some big problems popped up at work and prevented me from taking the trip. 



    Hence, I'll be beginning my your trip report  within the next few days!

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    buffetbuster
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 17:58:04 (permalink)
    ...which will make it both fun and painful to read!
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 18:11:41 (permalink)
    Great report!   How  did that sandwich compare with the one  at  G & R  in Waldo?  I  would love to try it...................the lunch bx collection  looks  great.  By the way,  I never knew that you actually  worked.....I thought you  just  traveled and ate!
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 18:22:15 (permalink)
    Greymo
    By the way,  I never knew that you actually  worked....
    The people I see Monday through Friday kind of wonder the same thing!
     
    I enjoyed the bologna sandwich here at Etta's, but the G & R Tavern is clearly superior. 

    post edited by buffetbuster - 2010/07/26 18:24:06
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    carolina bob
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 19:40:07 (permalink)
    Boy, if the Beaver had shown up at school with that Cheech and Chong lunchbox, Miss Landers would have sent him to the principal's office for sure!
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/26 20:48:48 (permalink)
    buffetbuster 
    How many first graders were sent off to school with a Hooters or a Cheech & Chong's "Up in Smoke" lunch box?  I think you can expect a call from the principal for that! 

    Hey, I remember my principal taking my Hooters lunch box.  He said if I kept quiet he wouldn't call my mother....hmmmmm.
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/27 10:53:58 (permalink)
    What great stories and pics! You have a way of pulling me into where you've been, although once Roadfood figures out "smellaposting" we'll be all set!
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/27 11:26:19 (permalink)
    BB, you sir, are quite the divining rod for great Roadfood and great character(s)!  I was walking to work today and started laughing to myself over that Cheech & Chong lunchbox!  I'd give almost anything to have been sitting in on THAT marketing meeting! 
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/27 11:38:45 (permalink)
    Honestly, the Hooters one is just as inexplicable.  :)
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    joerogo
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    Re:I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex. 2010/07/27 12:14:32 (permalink)
    Nancypalooza

    Honestly, the Hooters one is just as inexplicable.  :)
     


    And I had the new deluxe "Pop-Up" model!" />


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