Wisconsin: Gastronomic Journey Day

On Thursday, I didn’t go to House on the Rock and the Forevertron, because Nicki had decided to accompany me to the House that Spite Built on Friday instead. She left me her car to tool around, and I decided to drive down to Kenosha and drop in on my grandparents. My first stop was the legendary MARS CHEESE CASTLE.

Although the castle is somewhat lacking in battlements and, in fact, is neither made of cheese nor is on the planet mars, it contains many meaty, cheesy delights inside, along with a bunch of ridiculous tourist crap, like Brett Favre action figures. In this House o’ Cheese near Bong Recreation Area (hee hee!), I purchased some chudge (a questionable portmanteau of “chocolate cheese fudge”, creamy and delicious), a piece of cheddar shaped like Wisconsin, a cheese kringle for breakfasting, and some butterscotch root beer. During this time, I was hit on by a skeezy man with about three teeth who looked me up and down and said that everything in the store looked ‘deee-licious’. You can’t see it, but I’m shuddering.

After my cheese purchase, I saw a sign indicating that the Jelly Belly factory in Pleasant Prairie gives tours, and I was all over that like a fat kid on a…jelly belly. Things I learned:

  • Jelly Belly’s national prominence is due to Ronald Reagan, who was quite a fan of the beans while legislating.
  • The blueberry bean was invented for Reagan’s presidential inauguration, so that the company could give out red, white, and blue packs.
  • Reagan’s favorite flavor was licorice. *liquid jelly bean mixture is called ‘slurry’, made from 100% recycled animals.
  • The jelly-bean making process takes a couple of weeks and a hell of a lot of equipment.
  • The location I was in stores 2.5 billion jelly beans, and they ship out over a million jelly beans a day.
  • They take suggestions for flavors, and even as much as I like pickles, I am a little appalled that someone suggested pickle-flavored jelly beans. WHYYYY?
  • The company makes other candies, like taffy–you know taffy that comes with tiny pictures inside? That started as a 100 pound roll of taffy and they make something like 10,000 pieces from that one roll.

After I left Jelly Belly, I swung by China House in Pershing Plaza, where I used to have lunch once a week when I worked at Music Center on Green Bay Road–so many of us were regulars there that we could call in an order and they’d deliver to us, even though they don’t DO delivery. 10 years later and I recognized most of the people working there, which blows my mind a little because I’m such a job-hopper.

24 Comments Wisconsin: Gastronomic Journey Day

  1. aquariumspast October 23, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    I have never liked jelly beans, and the fact that people want pickle ones or dirt and booger Harry Potter beans supports my opposition…

    That taffy process goes for hard candy too … I like how they can slap all these colors together and say, “See, perfect!” and you’re like, “That does NOT look like a leaf!” and then they pull it through and there’s a freakin’ leaf…

    1. admin October 23, 2008 at 10:47 pm

      I’m a jelly bean fan, but my love of the unusual only goes so far.

      I am quite impressed by taffy and hard candy artistry!

  2. g33kgrrl October 24, 2008 at 12:23 am

    But you didn’t take a picture of the hat?!

    Also, is chudge as delicious as it sounds?

    Also, I am sorry about your grandparents some more. πŸ™

    1. admin October 24, 2008 at 2:59 am

      I live to please.

      Chudge is even MORE delicious than it sounds.

      1. g33kgrrl October 24, 2008 at 3:03 am

        Hurrah! I love it. And that he looks so… resigned. Maybe he’s pretending he’s Reagan instead of Napoleon?

        OMG, must have chudge. Dear Milwaukeeans, when are you coming back to Chicago?

        1. admin October 24, 2008 at 3:04 am

          If he’s Reagan, he must be upset that he gets all of the internet humiliation and none of the jelly beans.

  3. storm_dancer October 24, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Is that a jelly bean portrait of Ronald Regan in a Superman costume?

    1. admin October 24, 2008 at 3:00 am

      That is a VERY good guess, you’re probably right!

      1. poetrix618 October 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm

        Oh no… Reagan and Thatcher? I had no idea jelly beans are too conservative for me to eat. πŸ˜›

        Or perhaps that’s precisely why I should bite into them.

        1. admin October 24, 2008 at 8:19 pm

          It’s telling you conservatives are delicious, despite their bitter outsides. They have hearts of goldcandy.

  4. lostsatellite October 24, 2008 at 2:49 am

    I still have never been to the Mars Cheese Castle…damn, one of these days I need to change that!…

    never been to Jelly Belly either, though that was never on my priority list…those things kind of disgust me…but your pics of jelly bean Margaret Thatcher intrigue me!…

    and when you mention China House, you’re getting practically in my neighborhood πŸ™‚

    sorry to hear that your grandparents spend their time with you saying such hateful things…and that you had to see your grandmother wince when you mentioned your dad πŸ™

    1. admin October 24, 2008 at 3:03 am

      They have LOTS of those pictures–jelly bean Elvis, jelly bean Princess Diana, and on and on and on.

      Mmmmmm…China House. I need to coerce one of the cooks there to move into MY neighborhood. πŸ™‚

      1. lostsatellite October 24, 2008 at 3:10 am

        man, now you’re making me hungry for Chinese food!

        1. admin October 24, 2008 at 3:59 pm

          Doooooo it.

  5. smacksaw October 24, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I hope your dad joins a gang of gay black Mexicans and then adopts children with many of them and they all get a big compound across the street from your grandparents.

    1. admin October 24, 2008 at 3:59 pm

      I’ll bring that up to him this weekend and see what he thinks. πŸ˜€

      1. poetrix618 October 24, 2008 at 6:27 pm

        Yes, and there should be stabbing involved. (Or at least loud mariachi music at 8 AM to make you homesick for your old neighbors when you visit.)

        1. admin October 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm

          As long as the Mexican adopted children don’t stab one other, because then my papi would have some ‘splainin to do.

  6. jessetastic October 26, 2008 at 4:51 am

    This makes me want delicious chinese food. Which is ridiculous.

    I think that it’s really good that you saw your grandparents. Even if it’s the last time. You know for sure that you would not want to see them again because of who they are, not because of what happened between them and your dad.

    But that’s sad and lame and I feel for ya.

    and mmmm cheeeese castle…

    1. jessetastic October 26, 2008 at 4:54 am

      oh yeah. what’s chudge?

      1. admin October 26, 2008 at 6:55 am

        Chocolate cheese fudge!

        1. jessetastic October 26, 2008 at 7:06 pm

          oh holy jesus. really?

          1. admin October 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm

            Yes, and it’s AWESOME.

  7. dslartoo October 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the trouble with your grandparents. You can’t choose your relatives, regrettably.

    cheers,
    Phil

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