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Zaharakos - Columbus, Indiana and the Politics of Ice Cream

Zaharakos - Columbus, Indiana and the Politics of Ice Cream
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  • Zaharakos - Columbus, Indiana and the Politics of Ice Cream

    Post #1 - August 5th, 2009, 10:19 am
    Post #1 - August 5th, 2009, 10:19 am Post #1 - August 5th, 2009, 10:19 am
    Zaharakos and the Politics of Ice Cream

    It being August, our fancies turn to ice cream. Driving through Indiana, I was delighted to learn that Zaharakos - the classic ice cream parlor (or parlour) in Columbus, Indiana was once again open for business after four years shuttered with new owners. Zaharakos was opened in 1900 by Greek immigrants. The turn of the century was the golden age of ice cream parlor throughout America - palaces of delight and danger - many of them opened by southern Europeans (especially Greeks and Italians), and the public was both attracted to this otherness and fearful of the danger. Ice cream made its greatest impact in the Midwest at the time of the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. Rumors were spread that the unscrupulous owners would put narcotics into the ice cream of pretty young women dining alone and then sell them into "white slavery" (in contrast to that other form of slavery!). In fact, ice cream parlors were somewhat less reputable than tattoo parlors are today. For an excellent account of the dangers of ice cream, see a recent article (very readable) by Bill Ellis in the Journal of American Folklore:

    Bill Ellis. "Whispers in an Ice Cream Parlor: Culinary Tourism, Contemporary Legends, and the Urban Interzone." Journal of American Folklore 122.483 (Winter 2009): 53-74.

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    Even today ice cream is somewhat dangerous as our governor has signed a law that bars sex offenders from driving ice cream trucks. This could limit the employment options for some politicians, but presumably not our governor. Perhaps the next stage is to prevent these miscreants from working in ice cream parlors.

    At any rate, Zaharakos is open again (about five minutes from I-65 in the architecturally-splendid Columbus, Indiana. The woodwork and the fountain and the organ has remained,

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    although the space is somewhat too large for the number of tables, giving a slightly empty look (ice cream parlors should be bustling). Still simply having Zaharakos open for business again is terrific. Service was energetic, if not polished (on the evening I was present, there didn't seem to be any adults running the place: not necessarily a bad thing). I ordered the Gom Cheese Brr-Grr (Brr-grr, get it?): a Maid-Rite sort of sloppy-joe/cheeseburger on white bread (although not exactly thick white bread as the menu proclaims).

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    The Ice Cream soda was a worthy blend of ice cream (butter pecan, in my case) and cinnamon syrup, although not a super-premium ice cream.

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    By dining alone in an ice cream parlor one misses something (or if one were a women in 1909 perhaps gets something as well); still just knowing that Zaharakos is back in business, even without a frisson of danger, is comforting.

    Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum
    329 Washington Street
    Columbus, IN 47201
    812-378-1900
    http://www.zaharakos.com
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #2 - August 5th, 2009, 11:18 am
    Post #2 - August 5th, 2009, 11:18 am Post #2 - August 5th, 2009, 11:18 am
    GAF wrote:Zaharakos and the Politics of Ice Cream

    By dining alone in an ice cream parlor one misses something (or if one were a women in 1909 perhaps gets something as well); still just knowing that Zaharakos is back in business, even without a frisson of danger, is comforting.

    Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum
    329 Washington Street
    Columbus, IN 47201
    812-378-1900
    http://www.zaharakos.com


    That indeed is great news. Thanks a ton for the this. Columbus is so worth a visit for the architecture, especially from those crossword puzzle boys and their local churches. This just adds to the fun.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #3 - August 5th, 2009, 12:29 pm
    Post #3 - August 5th, 2009, 12:29 pm Post #3 - August 5th, 2009, 12:29 pm
    Hi,

    If it were not for its location 50 miles south of Indianapolis, I'd drive over this weekend.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - August 5th, 2009, 12:41 pm
    Post #4 - August 5th, 2009, 12:41 pm Post #4 - August 5th, 2009, 12:41 pm
    Wait for mid-October, when the fresh persimmons are available (a number of homes along Indiana Highway 46 sell persimmon pulp (and even fresh persimmons - the small, sweet Midwestern kind). Also the leaves will have turned color in Brown County State Park, and don't forget to stop at the Gnaw Bone Sorghum Mill on highway 46 for sorghum and various kinds of persimmon products.

    And Columbus and Gnaw Bone are not so far from Bloomington. On October 17, 2009 Indiana is playing Illinois in Bloomington. Road trip!
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #5 - August 11th, 2009, 7:51 am
    Post #5 - August 11th, 2009, 7:51 am Post #5 - August 11th, 2009, 7:51 am
    Great Post!

    I actually was married in Columbus, Indiana on Sunday Aug. 1 and the reception was held at Zaharakos. They just re-opened in mid june and have done a complete over haul of the entire space.

    I used to live in Columbus and my bride is from there so we thought we would try and break the space in right!

    I will post some wedding pictures that are more space and food related. We ended up asking them to run the soda fountian and ice cream bar after the dinner and it was a huge hit. Green River Soda is teh true old school drink of choice there with Cinnamon flavored coke a close second for me.

    All Ice cream is made in house. Clean kitchen.

    All in all a really great place to check out. Other noteables in town are possibly the best tenderloin sandwich in Indiana at CB's Bar and Grill on 4th street down town, about 2 blocks from Zaharakos. Get the breaded, fried tenderloin and a beer and enjoy at least one of the best in the area. I personally love the cornmeal added to breading.

    Beyond these two spots there is a pretty good Thursday fried Chicken night at Ziggies, and a great Taco truck and Tamale mini van available on the weedend.

    Kathy, I hope this is more bait to get you to drive down now!

    Oh and if you do the only 2 places I know to stop quickly off of I-65 and have anything worth eating are exit 220 Fair Oaks which beyond all of the silly advertising has an amazing grilled cheese sandwich. I promice it is better than you may think. Also around Lafayette there is XXX Burger that grinds all of their own meat in house and is delicious.

    Enjoy,

    Bourbon
  • Post #6 - August 11th, 2009, 5:09 pm
    Post #6 - August 11th, 2009, 5:09 pm Post #6 - August 11th, 2009, 5:09 pm
    GAF wrote:Wait for mid-October, when the fresh persimmons are available (a number of homes along Indiana Highway 46 sell persimmon pulp (and even fresh persimmons - the small, sweet Midwestern kind). Also the leaves will have turned color in Brown County State Park, and don't forget to stop at the Gnaw Bone Sorghum Mill on highway 46 for sorghum and various kinds of persimmon products.

    And Columbus and Gnaw Bone are not so far from Bloomington. On October 17, 2009 Indiana is playing Illinois in Bloomington. Road trip!


    GAF,

    Thanks very much for your post. I've never been to Bloomington and had no idea that it was persimmon country. However, I will be making my first visit for a conference the third week of October. I'm excited to visit Zaharakos and explore the area.

    Sharon
  • Post #7 - August 11th, 2009, 8:03 pm
    Post #7 - August 11th, 2009, 8:03 pm Post #7 - August 11th, 2009, 8:03 pm
    Sharon,

    Look for people with signs for selling persimmon pulp, and ask if you can pick up some of the persimmons that are lying under the tree.

    Boubon,

    XXX Burgers is a great college town burger by Purdue. The only quality food around - and plenty of grease.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #8 - June 12th, 2018, 9:29 am
    Post #8 - June 12th, 2018, 9:29 am Post #8 - June 12th, 2018, 9:29 am
    Reviving this thread to ask if anyone has any additional recommendations for the Columbus, Indiana, area. Thanks!
  • Post #9 - June 12th, 2018, 10:01 am
    Post #9 - June 12th, 2018, 10:01 am Post #9 - June 12th, 2018, 10:01 am
    If you can go a little east to Oldenburg, Wagner's Village Inn is a great stop for fried chicken and pork tenderloins.

    Wagner's Village Inn
    22171 Main St
    Oldenburg, IN 47036
    (812) 934-3854
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - June 13th, 2018, 6:50 am
    Post #10 - June 13th, 2018, 6:50 am Post #10 - June 13th, 2018, 6:50 am
    About 2 years ago, Jennie and I spent a day and 1/2 touring the amazing architecture in Columbus. We had dinner at Tre Bicchieri, a small Italian bistro and we were very pleased with the meal.

    Tre Bicchieri
    425 Washington St.
    Columbus, IN 47201
    (812) 372-1962
  • Post #11 - June 13th, 2018, 7:02 am
    Post #11 - June 13th, 2018, 7:02 am Post #11 - June 13th, 2018, 7:02 am
    Thanks for reviving this thread.

    I don't recall it before but the notion of ice cream parlors being historically dangerous and "exotic" places is fascinating.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #12 - June 13th, 2018, 2:03 pm
    Post #12 - June 13th, 2018, 2:03 pm Post #12 - June 13th, 2018, 2:03 pm
    GAF wrote:For an excellent account of the dangers of ice cream, see a recent article (very readable) by Bill Ellis in the Journal of American Folklore:

    Bill Ellis. "Whispers in an Ice Cream Parlor: Culinary Tourism, Contemporary Legends, and the Urban Interzone." Journal of American Folklore 122.483 (Winter 2009): 53-74.


    I don't know if this link will work if you aren't on a campus that has subscribed to this journal like I am, but try https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/20487646.pdf for a PDF of the article or https://www.jstor.org/stable/20487646 for an online version that also has a link to the PDF.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org

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