Roadside attractions have charmed drivers since the 1920’s and the beginning of car culture as we know it today. Sure, it’s a rush to drive with the top down on a convertible during sunny Summer days, but there is a lot of fun to be had at sites on those roads – maybe museums or outdoor playgrounds or even restaurants with odd or notable mascots. South of the Border in northern South Carolina is one of the most famous of these sorts of destinations along Interstate 95 – an entire complex inspired (kind of meekly) by a Mexican motif and the opportunity to buy legal fireworks, maybe a tourist t-shirt, and Mexican food. Then there are oversized characters found outside automotive garages or junkyards holding mufflers, affectionately called Muffler Men.
Today’s blog is dedicated to these types of characters, notably one very special guy who can be found along our tram route in the American Treasure Tour’s Toy Box. He once stood in front of a restaurant in Kutztown, Pennsylvania called Dempsey’s Dutch Country Restaurant. The original Dempsey’s was a diner in Pottstown, purchased – including the rights to the name – by a Cornell University-educated restauranteur named Philip Rowe. Rowe got in the diner business in 1947, then took over Dempsey’s in 1968 and created something of a nostalgic look at the pre-World War II small diner chain called Dempsey’s Diner. By the eighties, the franchise fully embraced its roots in Pennsylvania Dutch territory. Available on the menu were such “Dutch” staples as hog maw, fritters, chowchow, and shoo fly pie. But out front, welcoming visitors was a chubby, fiberglass Dutch boy mascot, Dempsey’s own version of the Big Boy of Bob’s fame. Dempsey’s is now only a memory, but the Dutch boy is right here, welcoming you in for another slice of that amazing shoo fly pie! (Shoo fly pie not included.)