Travels on US 68: Urbana to West Liberty (Food Trail)
Posted by cmh gourmand on October 24, 2009
Readers may recall the post about Urbana’s Crabill’s Hamburgers back in September. Well that was just the beginning of my day. My journey of discovery and rediscovery took me through Urbana then up Route 68 to Kenton, Ohio and beyond. So months after the fact, here is the recap.
After a few hamburgers and investigation of the food scene in downtown Urbana, I started my backroads journey to Ravenhurst Winery in Mt. Victory. Driving out of town, I rubbernecked seeing the image of a potato chip person out of the corner of my eye. Meandering back to the site of my sighting, I found –
Mumford’s Potato Chips.
325 North Main St
The Mumford clan started crafting potato chips in 1932, back in the day when there were many regional potato chip companies in Ohio. Mumford’s is still at it, although as charming as the store looks from the outside, they started outsourcing production of their chips years ago. On the plus side, you can buy two pounds of potato chips on the cheap for emergency roadfood. For the full chip story click here.
Back on track, I recalled that I would be passing by a good source for ice cream in West Liberty. Looking at the clock, I figured I had an hour of extra time for reconnaissance and an ice cream cone. The last time I was on US 68 was in 1998 while researching the best Ohio ice cream stands for Ohio Magazine. I had wandered by the Ice Cream Parlor by accident. The place has changed owners since then but everything else has stayed the same. The waffle cones are still made fresh daily with a touch of malt. The moniker is still The Ice Cream Parlor. Since it is the only ice cream parlor in that neck of the woods there is no need to worry about a snappy name.
The servings are still on the enormous side and they still scoop Nafzigers a hard to find ice cream from Northwest Ohio. The time it takes to consume one cone of ice cream is exactly how long it takes to wander downtown West Liberty.
I had forgotten there are plenty diversions (Piatt Castles, Ohio Caverns and the highest point in Ohio) in this part of Ohio. However, with only 30 minutes left before I needed to get back on my timetable, I needed to get back on track. I still wanted to explore a new candy store which had taunted me with several signs on the way into West Liberty.
I had not heard of Marie’s before so I figured this would be a 5 minute peek and walk through visit. I thought wrong. This turned out to be one of the best chocolate and candy stores I have visited.
311 Zanesfield Rd. (US 68)
This candy company started in 1956 so there is some history behind the name. However, there is even more history to the place. The current location is a restored railroad depot from the days when trains were to key to travel. The depot building was saved by owners Jay and Kathy King before it was used for fire department training. In 1993 they moved the depot to its present location and started the long process to restore the building to use it as a retail shop for their candy. The location finally opened Thanksgiving weekend in 1996.
The depot was brought back to life and restored to it’s former glory and additional space was added for retail sales, candy preparation and meeting space. The whole history of the building can be tracked on the walls surrounded by many artifacts from the glory days of railroad travel.
History is the side dish here. There is an incredible assortment of candy and chocolates. I spent almost an hour wandering around the store looking and sampling the selections. The service was great. I spoke with several of the employees as well as the owner at length. They were happy to answer all of my questions. At no time did they tell me I had a big smear of chocolate on my nose from the Ice Cream Parlor. Maybe they thought is was a birthmark or some type of disfigurement.
I left Marie’s with a few treats for the road and hauled tail for Mt. Victory hoping to get to Ravenhurst winery before closing. Along the way I sped by farmers market stands, drive in eatery’s and some sections of Amish country. There is a lot more to explore in the area but my first stop on my return will be a restocking mission at Marie’s.