I'll take Potpourri for $1200.00, Alex.

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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
post edited by buffetbuster - 2010/07/21 09:00:13

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