If the weather is fine on a Saturday afternoon when a gal should really be doing homework, said gal and pal should go get icecream in a town thirty minutes east of the homework assignment. There is absolutely no way to prepare for the awesomeness known as Wilton, IA (pop. 2,829). Wilton’s own official website tried to but this is the best it could come up with: “Three miles south of Interstate 80, ideally located at the junction of Highways 927 and 38, Wilton is within easy driving distance of Muscatine, the Quad Cities and Iowa City.” And don’t forget the Wiilton Welcome sign, which claims that Wilton is “Ready for Tomorrow” with lots of gusto and exclamation marks. What about today, Wilton? What I mean to say is that these are simply fine ways of saying that Wilton is in the middle of nowhere.
Besides being in the middle of nowhere, Wilton is also home of the Candy Kitchen–the nation’s longest running soda fountain/sweet shop:
The Candy Kitchen is run by Wilton’s own Thelma and George:
These dear folks have owned the soda shop for over 30 years. Thelma even wrote a book about the shop so that it could be granted the status of “historic site.” Plus, as the framed photos scrunched on a patch of wall attest to, Brooke Shields and Gregory Peck ate there. That’s historic site enough for me.
Kendra and I sat at the counter in red vinyl swivel stools. I looked to my left to see a little girl wearing a tiara and sequined scarf. She kind of nodded to me and we both turned back to face the menu, my full grown legs dangling right along with her pint sized ones. I hate to admit it, but I really wanted a tiara right then. But my spirits rose again when George served us our Dipsy Doodles and Odd Ball sodas (one included just the red flavors and soda water–and it was excellent). We watched as Thelma pulled out a bag of Wonder Bread and a tub of margarine, which she used to grease up two slices. Between the slices she placed some ham and cheese then popped the sandwich in a press grill. We were basically at Grandma’s house.
But the true piece de resistance was George’s famous banana split, which he claimed his grandfather had invented some years ago when the shop was given too many bananas. About three other towns vie for the title of “Home of the Banana Split” but looking into George’s cheery face I wanted so badly to believe that its home was Wilton. George assembled our split with the greatest of care: gently placing perfect sized mounds of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate icecream into the glass split bowl, then drizzling each individual scoop with a different flavor of syrup–marshmallow, fudge, and caramel. Then he sprinkled the nuts and sprinkles on it. He did not scrimp on either. Then he placed generous dollops of whipped cream and, on each crest, a maraschino cherry. Finally–as if it couldn’t get better–George reached below the counter and pulled out a small plastic ziplock. He had a sly smile on as he pulled out the treasure from within. With a slight flourish he crowned the top most mound of whipped cream with (and I kid you not) an American Flag toothpick:
Kendra and I looked at each other, our eyes saying that inside we were clapping our hands together in glee.
If you should be in the area come Sunday December 7, you will be rewarded. Not only can you visit the Candy Kitchen, but you can attend the annual Christmas Parade:
“A WILTON BEAVER CHRISTMAS” is the theme this year. Santa and Mrs. Claus’s arrival is going to be a Christmas Parade starting at 5 p.m. The parade route will start at the Wilton Post Office on Fourth St, and will end at the former Campbell Chiropractic office (121 W. 4th St.), where Santa will visit with the children in the Community until 6:30 p.m. Santa would love to see crowded streets for his Grand Entrance. So let’s all show up to welcome Santa!