Happiness Is….

Happiness is spotting a quality vintage sign. It’s even better when it’s in good shape and a brand you know.

When Arby’s first opened in Boardman, Ohio, in 1964, the neon ten-gallon hat was a big part of their brand. The company used it as their logo until the mid-seventies and these signs have steadily disappeared from the American streetscape ever since.

I read once that there are about a hundred of them left and I’ve seen a few including one in a town along Route 23 in Kentucky. That was several years ago but I do hope it still exists.

These old signs are costly to maintain and many are grandfathered in to local codes. In other words, many cities won’t allow signs this big or flashy to be installed but they allow existing signs to stay.

I also suspect that the chain makes franchise owners pitch the signs if they demolish and rebuild. The neon mid-century style doesn’t fit well with the new Arby’s brand and the boxy buildings that seem to make up the modern fast food world.

Personally, I’m a fan of character and of things that stand out to let you know where you are. You can spot the trademark red roof and wood siding of an old school Pizza Hut from a mile away. Yet the sleek, modern design reminds me of the box my toaster came in and they just melt into the background. These towns that demand everything be brick and that signs be white rectangles that fit in the same brick box used by everyone else are not my kind of towns.

Give me places like Muncie, Indiana where character and pizazz rule the street. These are the places that make me happy!

Here’s another vintage sign that still exists in Muncie!

Cork ‘N Bottle

The Cork ‘N Bottle is on the main drag in Cortez, Colorado. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the building but the sign is amazing.

My western adventure pal is a good friend. She understood the cue when she heard me gasp, slamming on the brakes for a quick picture.

Isn’t it fabulous?

A Taste Of Tradition At The Peanut Shoppe

Tucked away in a corner shop, just across the street from the Ohio Statehouse, is a small business that harkens to another time.

It’s called The Peanut Shoppe and the business is in its 86th year. It actually was opened by Planters Peanuts in 1936, one of about 300 such Planters retail locations across the country. All of those locations fell into the hands of private owners in the sixties and this one in Columbus is one of just a few still in business across the nation.

Today, it’s owned by Mike and Pat who said she’s worked there since 1972. “I’ve been doing this so long I don’t know what I would do if I weren’t coming in here,” she told me.

While they are know for roasted peanuts, fresh ground peanut butter and nut candies, they have a great selection of all kinds of fun candies.

I came home with a couple of kinds of peanut clusters, cinnamon gummy bears and the most delicious honey roasted nuts I’ve ever tasted.

Pat and Mike are super friendly and happy to share about the business. Turns out that when Planters sold out, they went around the country destroying the Planters signs and marketing materials at all the retail stores.

They left a trail of destruction in their wake until they arrived at a store in Michigan where workers encountered a young boy who begged them not to kill Mr Peanut. Mike said there was enough negative press to convince the company to completely suspend the killing of Mr Peanut.

They never made it to Columbus which is how Pat and Mike are in possession of the last of these signs in the world. It still works!

I have a confession to make. I looked up the store just to see the sign.

Yes, yes, I know that anyone who visits here regularly is not at all surprised by this revelation.

They have more Mr Peanut pieces including a great one that sits on a roaster and a costume similar to one Mike wore during his college days. Turns out, he earned much needed book money when he took a job wearing a Mr Peanut costume similar to this one pictured below.

They specialize in fresh roasted peanuts, freshly cooked party mixes, a large assortment of raw nuts and a colorful assortment of candies. They even sell some nice tins that they can fill to order if you’re in need of a gift.

Friends, I loved it there. The natural light, the glass front displays of goodies and friendly people happy to scoop up whatever treat your heart desires made my day. The place is both timeless and like a time machine back to your childhood.

Pat said to me “We serve up smiles here.”

Yes they do. I certainly was smiling when I left with my paper bag full of treats. Look them up the next time you head to a show at one of the downtown theaters or when you tour the Ohio Statehouse. You won’t be able to resist the goodies!

Find The Peanut Shoppe at 21 East State Street, just across from the Ohio Statehouse. You can also follow them on Facebook!

Once In A While…

Stockgrowers Association sign

Once in a while a road warrior will turn a corner and find themselves looking up at the coolest thing they’ve ever seen. For me, that coolest thing is often a barn, a bend in the road, an old building or a sign. That’s exactly what happened to me while walking around Rapid City, South Dakota with my pal Johnna last summer.

The building is a little nondescript but the sign is amazing. We just don’t make advertising signs with this kind of character anymore. And in case you’re wondering, it does light up. We went back after dark and it looked stunning.

Road Trip to the Henry Ford Museum

My last road trip of the year took me to Detroit to visit the Henry Ford Museum. This museum of innovation features all sorts of things I love – artifacts from history, cars, planes, trains, machinery, furniture, dollhouses…. the list goes on and on.

This was not my favorite road trip but this museum is incredible, making it all worthwhile. I’m going to tell you about a few special exhibits in the coming days but for today I’ll leave you with a handful of pictures.

That last picture is of a train snow plow from Canada. That’s right friends – this museum is so big it has a set of railroad tracks to accommodate a collection of trains. Not to mention the airplanes hanging from the ceiling and the acres of other cool stuff at ground level.

Check back tomorrow. There are stories to tell.