When friends that grew up together get together the course of discussion can wind from old times to new aches and pains. Some of the time it runs to the food we miss from our childhood and teen years. Through the remembrance of those items, memories of places and people flood us with bittersweet pangs of loss.
So here are my top ten food and drinks that I miss from growing up in the then small town Leesburg and Loudoun County, Virginia. If you’re not from here, I bet you miss some taste of where you came from, too.
10. A tiny. This was a small grape soda sold at the old Whitmore and Atwell Stores. It was really a Grapette but we only called it a tiny. Nothing else ever tasted like it and still doesn’t.
9. Bonomo Turkish Taffy. I bought mine at Drug Fair, you could crack it or pull it. A few years ago an entrepreneur brought this product back on the old candy market; believe me, it’s not the same.
8. Slim Jim Sandwich. You had to go “down country’ for this bad boy to the big metropolitan giant known as 7 Corners in Fairfax. It was sold at Topps Drive In, BIG TIME.
7. Vanilla Sprite at the Drug Fair dining counter. You could get a Vanilla Coke or Cherry Coke, a Lemon Coke or a Lemon Phosphate, but that combination of Sprite syrup, soda and hand pushed vanilla extract was a wonder to me.
6. Mighty Midget Sausage Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich. Not the fake Mighty Midget across from Market Station today, but the real Midget which stood as the gatekeeper to old Leesburg.
5. High’s Butter Brickle Ice Cream. Lawrence Muse would drive us over in his boat on hot Summer days. You cannot find Butter Brickle today, much less a High’s.
4. Ham and Cheese Sandwich at Edwards Drug Store. It was nothing fancy, ham and swiss with ice cold crisp lettuce, a ripe tomato slice and mayo served between lightly toasted white bread and drug store cut: simple perfection.
3. Tastee-Freez Big Tee Burger. I know there are a few TF franchises still around, but to me the Tastee Freez will always be on east Market Street. The Big Tee was the first double hamburger with special sauce I ever had, and remains the best of the breed.
2. Hamburger from the Mighty Midget. The BBQ with slaw pushes a little here, but that handpressed burger so hot on that soft bun with onion, relish, ketchup and mustard, lettuce and tomato, served in wax paper, steaming with goodness… it was the Michelangelo of hamburgers.
1. The Village Lanes Bowling Alley Steak Sub. Philadelphia can have their steak sub, it doesn’t hold a pickle to this sandwich. It is by a wide margin the taste I miss the most. I’m not confusing my love of the old “challey” with its din and clatter of noise, friends and good times with a romantic memory of the food; that steak sub was fantastic. Thin sliced beef flat grilled to where the edges were crisp, then piled with simple American cheese. It then was placed on a soft sub roll where mayo, mustard, ketchup and relish waited for its arrival; but wait there’s more. It was then placed in a hand cranked steamer for two pushes to bring everything together and to make that bun as soft as velvet. It remains the best sandwich, hell the best food I ever had.
So that’s my epicurean trip down memory lane. I’d love to read yours.