My brother Blake joined Zoe and me at the mail center for lunch yesterday. Blake’s birthday is next week, but he has an all-day meeting on the actual day so we celebrated a few days early. We decided to get takeout from O’Leary’s next door, and Thursday after work I went to Kroger across the street to look for something desserty. Wandered into the bakery area, and looked at the selection of little cakes, pieces of cheesecake, and such.
And then I saw them . . .
If you didn’t grow up in my part of the country, this picture means nothing. But for people in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois (and I think there were a couple in Florida), a birthday cake from Bill Knapp’s was an institution. Bill Knapp’s was a basic family homestyle restaurant – when I was a kid, I remember thinking it was a place where old people went to eat. But it seemed we always went there for family birthdays (and we had a large extended family, so we went there a lot) – and at the end of the meal, here came the waitress with a chocolate cake while Bing Crosby sang Happy Birthday. That cake had a number or two sticking out of the top that corresponded to your age – and each number had a lighted candle on top so you had one or two to blow out.
Those cakes were amazing, at least in my memory – I hadn’t had one since the local Bill Knapp’s closed more than 25 years ago. So when I saw that display at Kroger, I knew what Blake and I were having for dessert.
And it was wonderful – tasted exactly the same. I remember back in the day that we occasionally picked one up at Bill Knapp’s to take home for $1.99. Thursday night at Kroger – $9.99 – and it was worth the cost of inflation.
Happy Birthday, Blake . . .