Saturday, February 26, 2011

On Your Way... To the Lincoln Highway. With Nerds.

Time to take you along the culinary portion of the journey we took last October. We wanted to drive the entire Illinois portion of the Lincoln Highway, stopping wherever we may. We did this for two reasons: one, because we're cheap and wanted to save our big bucks for a trip to Napa in the spring, and two, because we're nerds. It was actually wonderful. I learned so much about my state, and the history of this amazing historical road that stretched (and still does) from coast to coast. When you come off the deadly monotony of the highway travel, with the unchanging scenery that we've become used to, it provided endless sources of fun and (yeah, I'll say it) LEARNING along the way. Don't get me started. Just rent the movie "Cars."

I won't bore you with are pictures from the whole trip. I'll just bore you with the food-related pictures. If you're really interested, come to my house and I'll show you the whole photobook I made, including every marker, mural and gazebo we stopped to photograph.

Oh, well. Just one.

Aw, lookit 'im. He's cute, isn't he, folks? Are you lookiting? LOOKIT.

Anyway, Route 30 starts on the eastern edge of Illinois in Lynwood. I don't know if you've been there, but I wouldn't plan a trip any time soon. It may be the most frightening place I've ever been, well above Humboldt Park, where I used to live and shared a block with more than one corpse that I viewed on the news while I did my morning workout. This was some sub-Detroit, post-apocalyptic shit, folks. Boarded, abandoned buildings everywhere, trash-littered streets, and just a couple poor souls shuffling zombie-like along the streets in bedroom slippers and toting plastic sacks (containing, I assume, human heads for snacking). Even the photo opportunity of a hot-dog painted propane tank couldn't prompt me to get out of the car in Lynwood, so I contented myself with recording "fun-spelled" words on the signs we passed, such as the "Dari Whip Snack Stop" (in Steger, where I really wished they'd gone the distance and eliminated the "h"), and "Unlimited Food's" (owned, I suppose, by the Food). With no transition whatsoever, the war-zone of  Lynwood became the mind-blowing historical mansions of Chicago Heights. They must have some amazing burglar alarms. You know. For the zombies.

We drove through Frankfort, Mokena, New Lenox (which has an Aurelio's AND a Chicago Dough, just like Bradley-Bourbonnais), and onto the glorious Joliet. We stopped into the Rialto Theater, the Chalkboard and Toy Town, and our first Lincoln memorial. We passed by the Big Chill Bar and Grill, Joe's, and the Ace Drive-In, all of whom I'd love to hear about or stop into one day. We did go into Dan's Homemade Candies, which has been open in the same building since 1919. Even before that, the place was another candy shop.

I only wish I had photographed the candy. Honestly, I think I just began wolfing it down all too quickly. What can I say? Absolute perfection. Hand-dipped, handmade candies that will make you ashamed you held Fannie May in such high esteem for so long. (Fanny is good, but it ain't this good). And it was here that I decided I would photograph not only the places we went to on our trip, but the people I spoke to along the way. I didn't get her name, but she told me all about Dan's, and she was the only one who didn't run into the back of the kitchen when I whipped out the camera.

Go to Dan's, fill your nostrils with the scent of (and your belly with the reality of) chocolate, particularly their mouth-watering caramel apples. Next stop: Plainfield, Illinois!


  1. I loved sharing this journey! You oughta be a travel writer; or barring that, a food writer who travels. Or a travelling foodie historian. I could literally picture every scenario. Kudos!

  2. Great stuff -- keep it coming.

  3. The picture of the woman at Dan's Homemade Candies is my mom, Kathi :)