I know it's been a while since I wrote an entry for my top 10 Kansas City foods series. To recap this is the list so far:
Number 10: Lamar's Cinnamon Twist
Number 9: Boulevard Wheat (with a lemon!)
Number 8: Cheesy Corn Bake from Fiorella's Jack Stack
Number 7: D'Bronx Pizza
Number 6: Kansas City Strip from Plaza III
Number 5: Stroud's rolls
Number 4: Christopher Elbow Chocolates
Here's my third choice:
A nostalgic Kansas City treat that captures the enjoyment of sharing food with friends, nothing can beat my third choice: the Winstead's Skyscraper.
Sure, it's not fancy like a Christoper Elbow chocolate nor is it the best-tasting milkshake in town. (According to this year's Pitch Best Of, that title belong Blanc Burger + Bottles.) But the skyscraper wins out over other shakes and desserts for bringing the most heart. In other words, this is a purely sentimal pick on my part.
As a young'n, my grandparents took me and my siblings to the Winstead's that used to be in Ward Parkway Mall as reward for helping with yard work. I don't remember anything about the yard work except my grandfather telling tall tales about the size of the Skyscraper to keep us filling trash bags. Looking at the Skyscraper now, and its $6.95 price (it was probably $4.95 then), I realize that my grandfather was winning the labor to wage battle. Not that we cared -- by the time we arrived at Winstead's we were ravenous.
What I remember, as if it was yesterday, was the waitress bringing out a milkshake in a glass larger than my head. I had never seen anything so big. She had to use both hands to put the Skyscraper on the table. For some reason I remember that part the most vividly -- that she used two hands. That and the long straws. It didn't take much to impress me.
The milkshake was chocolate. The taste really has little to do with the appeal of the Skyscraper. It's about being overwhelmed and sharing it and trying to finish it amongst three or four people.
I've only ever eaten a Skyscraper on special occasions. It's been four years since my last one -- I split it with some friends to celebrate the end of a long road-trip. When I see that glass vase being set on my table, I know that it's a once-in-a-blue-moon treat of a day. -- Owen Morris