Archive for April, 2010

Staying on the theme of tasty treats in the Reading PA area, I’m always powerless to resist the pull of the Tom Sturgis Pretzel Factory Store, located in Shillington, PA. Salty, sweet, crunchy pretzels in abundance, with neat pretzel related memorabilia on display and for purchase, we just had to stop there with the Retro Roadkids (and I knew their Retro Roadmom would love it too!)

Retro Roadkids and Tom Sturgis

This factory location has “only” been here since 1970 but the the first American commercial pretzel bakery was founded by Julius Sturgis in Lititz, PA in 1861. Marriott D. “Tom” Sturgis, grandson of Julius, founded the Tom Sturgis Pretzel Company in 1946. Julius is credited with developing crispy / hard pretzel (versus soft pretzels, which are also pretty popular in this region of Pennsylvania) but I’m not sure if the oversized pine cone pretzel (as shown below) ever really took off… ;-)
Pine Cone Pretzel
The shop at the pretzel factory is a cheery place filled with tasty treats from the Sturgis factory as well as snacks from other local producers – we ended up with a bag of Babs’ Carmel Corn and two types of Dieffenbach’s Old Fashioned Potato Chips along with the other pretzel booty in our bags.

Isn’t vacation, or someone else’s vacation, the perfect excuse to eat great quantities of tasty snacks? You bet! Not sure of what type of pretzel you might want to take home? There’s a great bit lazy susan with plenty of samples, just use the tongs!

Lazy Susan Pretzel Sampler

Along with the boxes and bags and cartons of pretzels and pretzel-abilia I was thrilled to see the display of vintage Tom Sturgis Pretzel Tins.

Tom Sturgis Vintage Pretzel Tins
Better yet I was pleased to see that they still offer a new version of their classic tin, that has that old timey feel at an affordable price ($4.25 empty). I added one to our bag to give to Retro Roadmom as a reminder of our fun day with the Retro Roadkids in the Reading area. (I already have one, we keep Retro Roaddog treats in it!)

Tom Sturgis Pretzel Tins

We came home with waaay too many treats, and as I type this I’m probably getting BBQ flavored pretzel bit crumbs all over the keyboard. They are truly addictive! As is the dangerously delicious Brittle Bark made with popcorn, pretzels, toffee and drizzled with chocolate. I had that for breakfast, I could not help it!

Tom Sturgis Factory StoreI love the fact that the Tom Sturgis Pretzel Company is still family owned and located here in the USA. And how cool is it that they have a factory store we can buy from, happy red and yellow box trucks, oversized pretzels and a cheery Tom to pose by for vacation snapshots? A true roadside delight!

Tom Sturgis Pretzel Store
2267 Lancaster Pike
Schillington, PA 19607
(610) 775-0335

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We learned about Schell’s when perusing the paper placemat advertisements at The Ranch House. There, sandwiched between ads for adult daycare and tax prep services, the line drawing of the 1950’s looking Schell’s sign was all I needed to motivate us up the street about 10 minutes to check out the place. Seeing the giant vintage sign glowing in the dark was a total Retro Roadmap score!

Schell's Hot dogs Bar B QHad we not just stuffed ourselves at The Ranch we would’ve partaken of something at Schells’. No matter- it was definitely worthy of a re-visit. So when a sunny warmish Sunday came along and I didn’t feel like buckling down to write right away, I suggested this roadside compound to Retro Roadhusband as a lunch diversion. Only goony thing that happened was that I forgot my camera, so these photos are from my phone.

Schell's Menu(pay no attention to the prices on the wooden menu, they’re strictly vintage!)

Serving Berk’s County PA for over 57 years, Schell’s is known for their hot dogs, BBQ sandwiches (a la sloppy Joe) ranch burgers and fried cheese cubes, as well as their Dairy Swirl ice cream shop and mini golf. While I thought it would be amusing to see the Lion’s mints on the hotdog roller while we were waiting, Retro Roadhusband and I decided on some Ranchburgers, cheese cubes (of course!) and fries.

Lions Mints or Hot Dogs

Learn from our mistake please and get into the shortest line you find or look for a seasoned veteran behind the counter taking orders, they seem to know a thing or two about getting an order taken quickly and efficiently. Our time jockeying for position in line however gave us time to absorb the atmosphere- a 1960’s 70’s looking brown cowboyish theme, and also notice how the place was constantly filling up with folks and families out to enjoy the sun.

Miniature Golf 27 Holes

Schell’s has indoor seating as well as picnic tables around their 27 hole miniature golf course, so we thought we’d go outside and watch some putting as we ate our food. No lie, right there near the end of the course we saw a Richie Cunningham look-alike and someone that could give Roy Orbison a run for his money!

Our food was plentiful and tasty- though I will admit the ranch sauce on the ranch burger was off-puttingly sweet  and I’d probably opt for a regular cheeseburger next time. Also, fried fan that I am, I love the idea of fried cheese cubes but I have to admit that the fries, thin cut like a certain McFastFood place, were almost better than the cubes. One of my fave local  fun food fans  Holly Eats gives Schell’s 4 grease stains, so I have an excuse to try some other things next time we’re perusing their menu.

Cheese Cubes and Ranch Burgers

As we sat watching the golfers golf and the diners dine, I declared that Schell’s combo of food, fun and ice cream would make it a perfect place for a first date. While I did realize that my imagination was seeing junior high school kids from the 50’s and 60’s going out on a double date, I personally would be charmed if anyone suggested this place for a swell evening out. Gosh knows what “kids these days” would think :-)
Schell's Hot Dogs BBQ Dairy Swirl Cool Signs!
Since we ate sooo much during lunch and had no room to try out their ice cream selection – which I’ve read includes hard ice cream, soft ice cream, water ice and sherbet, it’s a sure bet (HAR!) that RRH and I will be heading up there sometime soon – on a hot date to get a cool treat!

4625 5th Street Hwy
Temple, PA 19560-1401
(610) 929-9660

Schell's on Urbanspoon

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While we had a swell going on all sorts of fun vintage adventures with the Retro Roadfamily this weekend I have to admit that the all of us here at the Hacienda are still recovering from the whirlwind of activity!


I’m going to do my best to catch up on posting about so many of the cool places we’ve gone over the past few weeks, but to catch a sneak peek on what’s coming up on Retro Roadmap head on over to the Retro Roadmap Flickr Pool Page and see the gazillion photos I just added! See something that strikes your fancy? Let me know and maybe I’ll bump it to the top of the list!

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I’ve got tons of places to add to the Retro Roadmap but they’ll have to wait a few days, as I am looking forward to partaking in some actual Retro Roadfun as the Retro Roadkids and their Retro Roadmom visit Pennsylvania for a long weekend!
Planned highlights include seeing The Wizard of Oz on the big screen at Phoenixville’s historic Colonial Theatre, pancakes in a diner and bowling- by request of Retro Roadboy, and if the weather holds out I’m hoping we can get in a round of vintage miniature golf!

Pair that with small town fun like walking Retro Roaddog to the park, stopping at the cookie store and maybe getting and ice cream and I’m just giddy with anticipation!

Wish me luck as Retro Roadaunt, and if you’ve got any not-to-miss roadkid places to visit in PA leave it in the comments!

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As you can probably tell from my photos, the weather wasn’t fully cooperating with my all day plan to drive around and take photos of the cool old vintage and retro places between Lancaster PA and points west. However nothing cheers up a day more than an unexpected donut shop stop with its cheery orange signage, friendly counter help, wonderfully retro interior and of course tasty donuts! Thank you Maple Donuts of York PA for the smile on an otherwise gloomsville day.
Maple Donuts

As I learned from reading the napkin and asking the very helpful counter girl, Maple Donuts has been around since 1946 and while they do have a maple frosted donut, the store name actually comes from its original location on Maple Street in York. The company is still family owned and operated and has a handful of locations around the York PA area. The location I discovered is on Route 462 and I could not resist the pull of the big orange sign and the promise of something sweet to lift my spirits (and blood sugar!)

Maple Donuts Sign
I was delighted to see that there were plenty of donuts to choose from, and according to reports they have 58 varieties! It is at times like this when I wish Retro Roadhusband was with me, so I could sample more than one flavor, as many of them looked delicious, both cake and raised, frosted, filled, crullers, mmm! Since I couldn’t order one of each I did the next best thing, and sampled some of their donut holes.

Maple Donut Holes

I was going to get a diet Coke (my go-to to-go drink with donuts – a leftover habit from a job I had long ago) but when I saw how delightfully cheery the interior of this shop was, I decided to get a hot tea and sit at the counter.
Maple Donuts Interior
The main counter is a wonderful intersection of multiple circles, and the tables at the window are meant to look like a donut, with a white circle in the middle. How cute is that? I sat myself down at the middle of the big center counter donut at the counter and tried to balance devouring/savoring of these deep fried and sugar coated tasty morsels. De-lish!

Maple Donuts Counter

I dug sitting at the counter waiting for my tea to cool off- to my right there was an older gentleman eying me as I artfully arranged my donut holes on the napkin – hey, all the kids are doing it, pops! To my left I had a perfect view of a family coming in for a dozen, their twin boys, no more than 5 years old I bet, making a beeline for the swivel counter stools, getting in as many spins as they could before mom would herd them back into the mini-van. I smiled at them and they smiled at me, sharing the knowledge  that it sure is fun to swivel as fast as you can before mom says no. Kinda sad to think of all those random moments of human connection like this we miss when we’re in our cars in the drive through or getting something to go.

While I have a Dunkin Donuts within a block of The Hacienda, I’d drive over an hour back to Maple Donuts in a heartbeat. It’s an easy exit off of Route 30 ( check it on the Retro Roadmap) – so if you’re in the area I suggest you make the stop too – you won’t be disappointed!

Maple Donuts
3455 East Market Street
York, PA 17402
(717) 757-7826

Maple Donuts on Urbanspoon

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Updated for 2011: Let the season of FUN begin! Skip’s Snack Bar in Merrimac MA opens for the 2011 season on April 20th. Start the countdown to your tasty cheese burgers, suzie Q fries and shakes starting today!

Since my post in 2009 I’ve found that Skips is well represented on Facebook – share your love of these tasty burgers, their wonderful flashing neon sign and vintage car cruise nights on one of 2 Skips pages:

Skip’s Snack Bar Merrimac MA Facebook Fan Group

Skip’s Official Facebook Page

For those of you who don’t remember my post from the summer of 2009 on my adventures at Skips, I’ve included it below – to whet your appetite!

Skip’s Burgers are Worth The Trip!

If you’re a Retro Roadmap kinda person, Skip’s Snackbar in Merrimac MA takes you on a rollercoaster ride before you even park your car. The first thing you see from the road is this glorious colorful neon sign, the likes of which we rarely see in Massachusetts! Lights flashing, neon gleaming, at night I am sure it is quite a sight:

High expectations arise when you see a sign like that, but then it’s a plunge downhill when you pull into the parking lot and find that the place itself is a brick box.


Now you know I like to keep the tone here positive, but I just want to make folks aware of this in case the disappointing facade makes them think they should skip Skip’s. Au contraire! Trust the flashy neon sign, because the burgers and fries at this place are totally worth it.

Skip’s is family owned and has been in business since 1947 – at this location since 1955. When you walk in you see the huge vintage sign below and then find that the place is a modified drive in restaurant, where you order at the counter and they call your number when your food is ready.

Skip's Snack Bar Sign

There are plenty of snack bar foods on the menu, but trust me, order a burger or cheeseburger. And PLEASE! Don’t be a ninny like I was- get the delicious Suzie Q fries!


Here’s what happened. I had not been to Skip’s in easily 10 years or more, and had remembered something about their fries being thin cut and really good. So when I saw Suzie Q fries on the menu and the lady behind the counter confirmed that they were basically curly fries, I figured they must’ve done away with the tasty fries that I had remembered. So I declined fries. MISTAKE! As soon as I sat in the dining room I saw everyone around me consuming these delectable thin, HAND CUT AND CURLED, FRESH Suzie Q fries. I debated trying to go back and get some added to my order, but realized that would be a hassle so I went without. I’m still kicking myself.

For you, dear readers, I actually asked a gracious but somewhat wary customer if I could take a photo of her fries, so I could show you all what I missed, and wow, what I missed! Hopefully this photo will convince you that the fries are worth it.

Skip's Hamburger & Suzie Q Fries

I will say that my burger was mighty delicious and totally hit the spot, despite all of the Retro Roadeating I had been doing all week. The meat is fresh ground and never frozen, and while the patty may be thin to some, for me it was just the right size to meld with the toppings. That is one tasty burger!

While it is good to have someplace covered to eat, the dining room that was added on in the late 70’s/ early 80’s is not much to look at, so if the weather is nice, get yourself a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables. There you will see the grounds for Skip’s famous Cruise Nights, where folks from all over gather to see and be seen in their vintage cars and hot rods. Some of the Cruise nights have upwards of 800 cars, and the suggested donations for these nights goes to a local charity.

Retro Roadmap wants to help you be in the know- Skip’s is cash only, they’re closed on Tuesdays, and only open from May to October. And don’t forget the Suzie Q Fries!

Skip’s Snack Bar
92 E Main St
Merrimac, MA 01860
(978) 346-8686‎

Skip's Snack Bar on Urbanspoon

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