Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Olathe's Tastee Treat turns 50 years old

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM

A moment of silence for the long-forgotten Tutti-Frutti milkshake
  • A moment of silence for the long-forgotten Tutti-Frutti milkshake

Two American entrepreneurs claimed to have invented soft-serve ice cream: in 1936, Tom Carvel of the franchise brand bearing his name, and in 1938, inventors John Fremont "Grandpa" McCullough and his son, Bradley, co-founders of the Dairy Queen franchise. No matter who actually invented the product - a lighter, airier frozen confection dispensed from a machine - soft-serve caught on in America in a big way. By the 1950s, there was hardly a city that didn't feature at least one concrete block hut with a cheery name like Tastee Freez (celebrated in John Mellencamp's song "Jack & Diane"), Dairy Freeze, Dairy Dream, and Frosty Freez.

TASTEE_MENU.JPG
Long before Sueko "Sam" Silvernale and her husband, Hugh, purchased the red-and-white building in Olathe that is currently home to Sam's Tastee Treat, the little drive-in at 435 S. Parker was one of the original Tastee Freez franchises, which opened in 1963. This snack shack, which sells really excellent double cheeseburgers, burritos, crab rangoon, tacos and pork tenderloin sandwiches (the actual menu is impressively large - and cheap), also offers thick milkshakes and malts but not, alas, in all of the original flavors from 1963.

Oh, sure, you can still order a butterscotch shake or hot fudge malt or even a cinnamon shake. But some of the more wild swinging '60s flavors have long been crossed off the board, including tangerine, apricot, loganberry, coffee, tutti-frutti, red rose - does anyone remember what was in that concoction? - as well as pumpkin, eggnog, orange-pineapple and peppermint. I was tempted, the afternoon I was in there, to order a candy spice shake, but then I was lured away by the selection of soft-serve sundaes: butter pecan, caramel, chocolate, pineapple, hot fudge, cherry, butterscotch, and marshmallow.

Sam and Hugh Silvernale bought the business in 1997 after running it for a couple of years. It's clean as a pin but not very big: a couple of stools and three tiny booths. The booths are so small that if you squeeze in before chomping down on a healthy lunch of a chili burger, tater tots, a corn dog, a taco and a chocolate malt, you may not be able to get out of it.

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