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Culinary Discovery & Misadventures in the Ice Cream Capital of the World (Columbus)

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The Official Food of Columbus?

Posted by cmh gourmand on May 24, 2014

The Dispatch is running a poll, until Wednesday May 28th, for people to vote on what should be the official food of Columbus.

After some vetting, five candidates were selected:

Columbus Style Pizza

Schmidts Cream Puff

The White Castle Slider

Schmidts Bahama Mama

Buckeyes (the candy for those of you not from Ohio).

I would cut that list down to three. If something is going to be the official food of our fair city then it should be iconic. The candidate should be unique to our city….or ubiquituous within 270. The connection to our borders and our people should be strongly defined and documented. Using that criteria (mine) then we eliminate both the Schmidt’s Cream Puff and Buckeyes. Cream Puff’s are far from unique to Schmidt’s or our region so that is an immediate write off. Just being good does not make it our official food.

As for http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/food/2014/05/21/official-food-poll.html, the origins of this tasty treat start in the 20th century but no sources connect the candy with Columbus. Also – the desire of many to somehow connect this peanut butter and chocolate delight to our local football cult is too distasteful to consider adding fuel to that fire.

And then, there were three.

Let us consider the White Castle Slider. While not created in our city, it has been perfected and refined here (Columbus has been the company corporate headquarters since 1934). That gives the burger some credibility. If White Castle had originated here instead of Kansas, then I would have supported the slider as the ONLY choice….but alas, the slider, slides out of the running.

The Bahama Mama, a slightly spicy pork and beef sausage has been around since at least 1968. It’s past includes a lawsuit against Nassau Nellie for trying to imitate the unique mix of meats, spices and preservatives that make a sausage a Bahama Mama. Schmidt’s won that lawsuit. But – ultimately, it is a still a common sausage with a bit of customization and good marketing.

My vote, goes to Columbus style pizza. For origins, we can go back to about 1953 when the first pizzeria’s opened in the city. Examples of the style include Donato’s, Massey’s, Rubinos and more. And in my book, if you choose to pick a food to be an icon for a city then that food should generate passion. Columbus style pizza does that, people either love it or hate it. So I say we vote for Columbus style pizza.

Thinking long and hard, I could only come up with one other candidate, The Frosty. The signature dairy based treat (it is not ice cream) has been the mainstay of Wendy’s since day one in 1969. As a dairy product – it does have a unique recipe and chemical composition that is not easily imitated outside the walls of Columbus’ premiere fast food chain. The only problem is, it is not exceptionally good, just exceptionally easy to find.

So what food deserves to win?

If you want to cast your vote, the link is -> HERE.

It is too late for a write in vote for another food.

We will see who wins the Dispatch Poll on after May 28th, but because it is in print does not mean it is right for our city or right for you. But being the Dispatch, we can assume that it will lean to the right. I do hope Columbus Style Pizza wins the votes of the people of Columbus.

I’m saying Columbus Style Pizza is the best food, of all we serve in our city, but I think it does serve as the best Icon, let me elaborate why. Back to CMH Style pizza and my thought process. And iconic food should be ubiquitous to the place. There is more than one place in NYC to get a New York style hot dog, New York style pizza, a reuben ora New York style bagel. The same is the case with the Chicago style dog or beef or deep dish pizza – ubiquitous. Philly Cheesesteak – Ubiquitous. Columbus style Pizza….ubiquitous (and in its best form Iaconos, really very good). Not taking anything away from Buckeyes, Bahama Mama’s and cream puffs, you just can’t find them in multiple places from multiple people. You can’t line drive a softball in our city and avoid a Columbus style pizza, so like it our, not, I think it is something to stamp some civic pride on.

(My name is Jim Ellison and I approve this message).

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One Response to “The Official Food of Columbus?”

  1. hungrywoolf said

    I think you were too quick to dismiss buckeyes. I think they are a strong candidate – they are much more common in Columbus than anywhere else, they are not unique or trademarked by one company, there are lots of places that you can buy them. They are very popular and associated with Columbus. I don’t think they are only associated with football.
    I’m not keen on something that is owned by one company and pizza is too associated with other cities (NY and Chicago) even though Columbus has its own style.

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