The day ended up here, admiring an old-fashioned wall of carefully curated mass markets. Is this Boswell? No, it is not. So how did this happen?
We spent this morning with Jenny Lewis at the Milwaukee Public Market. In the shadow of the old Red Star Yeast building, Lewis told stories from Midwest Sweet Baking of old midwestern brands such as that venerable yeast. We learned how to make espresso ganache tarts. We also got to see a small sample of Lewis's food packaging collectibles. Shown below is Little Fairies baking powder.
Back at the bookstore, there were a good number of browsers, as it should be the week before Mother's Day. Apologies for counting wrong last week. I sorted out the week's offsites, so now we have on display signed copies of The Art of Fielding. Since the book is so perfect for gifts, we've got a bulk special. Buy three copies of Chad Harbach's novel, and we'll give you a free Westish Harpooners baseball shirt. If you order three signed copies from us online, specify if you want a small, medium or large shirt included.
This retail thing must be genetic because Merrill is also quite interested in browsing retail stores. After contemplating some options, we wound up heading to Woodman's, which is always a treat for anyone interested in obscure brands including the candies of old, which Jenny Lewis had just waxed eloquently. It turns out she gives Chicago candy tours. I'm up for it! For more info, visit Chicago Candy Tours.
After meandering through displays of Pixy Stix, Charleston Chews, Slo Pokes, and Bonomo Turkish Taffy, we had a field day browsing other categories. In most markets when you're talking ketchup (or catsup), you're lucky to find Heinz, a private label, and either Hunts or Del Monte. Today we checked off at least five other brands, including Franks, McIlhenny, Red Gold, Brooks, and Milwaukee's own LeRoy's.
What I found particularly odd is that their salad dressing selection, which is normally quite broad in a local market, was actually pretty boring. And where was the Henri's, a staple headquartered for decades on Silver Spring Drive? It's still available at other retailer, at least according to an online search.
So in the end, today's gift post involved buying the gift of Himalayan pink sea salt for our friend Tara and book browsing involved looking at mass market paperbacks. Maybe next week we'll get something new in to write about.