With all the wieners in the news this past week, it made me think of a place in Springfield, Missouri where my first love affair with the CONEY began! Springfield’s oldest restaurant, Casper’s is celebrating it’s 102nd year. The famous chili restaurant is housed in a Quonset hut, seating for 29 lucky diners, it's cramped but the customers don’t mind. My Dad was a friend of former owner Casper Lederer who started the business in 1909 as a fruit stand. Over the years it evolved into a chili house and changed locations from the old one out on Glenstone to the current one in the downtown area on Walnut. Daddy used to bring those delicious coney's home and they were so good!
Springfield also had a Dog and Suds Drive-In that served great coney's. Like Sonic, you'd set in your car and they would bring your order on skates.
After we married we moved to Sacramento, California and for 15 cents at Der Wienerschnitzel you could have the best chili cheese dog, kraut dog, or polish! Our daughter Stephanie was a toddler and loved the kraut dog, her Daddy would hold his nose while she ate it in the car!
Last week while we were at Tulsa, we ate at The Coney I-Lander, a regional chain with the best slow-grilled hot dogs you ever put in your mouth! Topped with chili, shredded cheese, onions and mustard and nestled in a steamed bun, the coneys are much smaller than a typical hot dog. When you enter, there's a line where you place your order "Soup Nazi Style," order wrong and everyone turns and stares at you like you are an Alien from Outer Space! We were the Aliens at the Coney I-Lander on Peoria Tuesday! The chain dates back to 1926, when Greek immigrant Christ Economou opened his first location in downtown Tulsa. The restaurants survived the Great Depression to become a part of Tulsa's history. Loyal customers enjoy their food while unscrambling posted "jumbled" sentences. We saw the jumble but until I came home and Googled it, I didn't have a clue what it was!
Don't forget to visit the Mom and Pop places where you live for that great "local flavor."