Today we release some secrets, and Dayton Dining will never be the same again. Call it “Dayton Babylon: Little known trivia relating to Dayton Food and Restaurants.”
Sit back and enjoy, as Food Adventures gives you our favorite foodie trivia of the Miami Valley:
1) THE INVENTOR OF MARION’S PIZZA USED TO BE AN EMPLOYEE OF CASSANO’S:
Yes it is true. Marion Glass was once an employee of Cassanos. After leaving, he opened up a sandwich shop, then later his own pizza place.
2) IN 1988, THE PINE CLUB MADE VICE PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH SR. WAIT 45 MINUTES FOR A TABLE:
Oh, this happened alright. As the story goes, the Vice Prez was forced to wait in his limo until the table was ready. That’s one popular steakhouse !
3) HOUDINI ESCAPES FROM A BARREL OF DAYTON BEER:
The date was December 11th, 1916. The place was at Keith’s Theater downtown, near E. Ludlow Street. Harry Houdini performed the Chinese Water Torture trick with a Dayton twist. He escaped from a 60 gallon barrel filled with Olt’s Beer, a Dayton brewed lager. Maybe Dayton Most Metro can do something similar with Big Ragu on their Brew Tours
4) TOTENKO SERVES ROACHES TO FOOD CRITIC:
In the late 1970’s, Dayton Daily News Food Critic Ann Heller was writing one of her first articles on the Asian restaurant near the Dayton Mall called “Totenko.” When they served her meal, she noticed there were dead roaches in the food on her plate. The restaurant closed for a few days with the intent to re-open, but it never did. The business would later become Chi Chi’s on State Route 725.
5) THE WRIGHT BROTHERS WERE FOODIES WHO HOSTED HOLIDAY DINNER PARTIES:
The Wright Brothers were known for hosting extravagant dinners at their homes each holiday. They would invite friends and family for these tremendous feasts. Nothing like the food served by today’s airlines…
6) IN 1842, FAMOUS ENGLISH AUTHOR, CHARLES DICKENS, VISITED THE GOLDEN LAMB WEARING A BEAVER HAT AND COMPLAINED BECAUSE THE HOTEL DID NOT SERVE ALCOHOL.
Evidently, he asked for some brandy and was refused due to it being a “temperance hotel” (no alcohol). He even wrote a pissed off passage in his American memoirs about the experience. Sorry Charlie …
7) MIKESELLS IS THE OLDEST POTATO CHIP FACTORY IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE WRIGHT BROTHERS HELPED:
Dayton is home to the oldest potato chip company in the USA, 104 years old and still counting! The kettle cooked Mikesells are pretty much the same chips DW Mikesell peddled in 1910. Speaking of which, when he first starting delivering chips by bicycle, his bike needed repair. The Wright Brother’s bicycle company came to the rescue and DW Mikesell was back delivering chips in no time !
8) THAI 9 USED TO BE A PEANUT FACTORY:
Love the spacious dining room with the wooden floors and upstairs area? That’s because the place used to be a peanut factory. That’s what we were told by management when the restaurant first opened.
9) ESTHER PRICE CANDIES USES LOCALLY PRODUCED MILK AND BUTTER IN ALL OF THEIR CANDIES:
How about that, Esther Price was being organic and eating local, before it was cool. You go girl. No wonder we love these chocolates so much! Get on with your bad, creamy self.
10) THE BAR AT JAY’S SEAFOOD HOUSE WAS MADE IN 1882 for JAMES RITTY’S PONY EXPRESS RESTAURANT IN DAYTON:
If you have had a beer or cocktail at the Jay’s Seafood bar, then you have experienced a piece of Dayton history. This huge mahogany bar was made from 5400 pounds of wood. That makes it the coolest bar in town … bar none.
11) IN 1970, PONDEROSA APPOINTED DAYTONIAN JERRY OFFICE to CEO. HE GREW COMPANY REVENUE FROM $42 MILLION to $490 MILLION in the 1980’s:
Oh yes, wide ties, and aerobics with leg warmers couldn’t stop Jerry from bringing the supreme salad buffet to America! Check him out in this 1984 Ponderosa Commerical.
12) THE BAR AT SWEENEY’S SEAFOOD HOUSE IS THE OLD BAR FROM TEQUILA WILLIES BY THE DAYTON MALL:
A little known fact is that this decorative bar, now at Sweeney’s, was the bar at the Tequila Willies Restaurant near the Dayton Mall. The story goes, the previous tenant at Sweeney’s got it at auction and had it installed.
13) THE OWNERS OF PIZZA QUEEN CLOSED THEIR STORE TO OPEN THEIR DREAM RESTAURANT, EL MESON:
Yes, The Castro family decided to dump pizza toppings for tapas. Some Daytonians might have been disappointed at first, but now El Meson is a staple for bringing exotic South American eats to the Miami Valley.
14) THE HOT HEAD BURRITO FRANCHISES STARTED IN DAYTON:
Cynthia Wiley and Raymond Wiley from Kettering came up with the concept, and opened their first store in 2007. It has been a hot commodity since, and they haven’t let it go to their “heads.”
15) THE OLDEST ACTIVE CHINESE RESTAURANT IN DAYTON is CHOP SUEY CARRYOUT:
Since 1973, this oldest active Chinese Restaurant in the Dayton area has been slinging New York style stir fry and Cantonese cuisine. Try the Chop Suey, it will knock your Aunt Connie’s socks off.
16) THE PULL TAB CAN and POP TOP CAN WERE INVENTED BY DAYTON INVENTOR, ERMAL FRAZE:
Ermal’s company, Dayton Reliable Tool Company started making his invention in 1959. When people worried about the sharp edges of the pull tab, he then invented the pop top on today’s cans in 1977. Think of all the beer buzzes and caffeine fixes he made possible. He is obviously the namesake for Fraze Pavillion and the tribute in Warped Wing’s Ermal Beer.
17) DAYTON WAS THE 2nd U.S. CITY TO IMPLEMENT THE FOOD STAMPS PROGRAM:
Dayton takes care of it’s impoverished residents.
18) INVENTOR OF THE ICE CREAM SCOOP WITH ANTIFREEZE INSIDE WAS THE OWNER OF THE RED WING ICE CREAM COMPANY IN DAYTON:
Ever use one of those ice cream scoops with antifreeze in it, so the hard ice cream is easy to scoop? According to the owner’s daughter, that scoop was invented in Dayton. Red Wing Ice Cream used to be located near the arcade. Now you know the “scoop.”
19) FOOD NETWORK CHEF MING TSAI’S FAMILY USED TO RUN A RESTAURANT IN THE 1970’s CALLED “THE MANDARIN KITCHEN”:
This restaurant was a pioneer in bringing gourmet Asian Food to Dayton. The Mandarin Kitchen had a cult following. Our memories include the restaurant having this amazing aroma throughout the dining room.
20) THE HAMBURGER WAGON IN MIAMISBURG STARTED BECAUSE OF THE GREAT DAYTON FLOOD OF 1913:
Sherman “Cocky” Porter served his own recipe of hamburgers to the victims of the flood out of a wagon. They were served with no condiments, just pickle, onion, salt and pepper. 101 years later, the wagon is still a Miamisburg and Dayton icon, and the recipe is still the same.
21) CULP’S CAFE IN THE ARCADE WAS THE FIRST DAYTON RESTAURANT TO HAVE AIR CONDITIONING:
People like the sweaty Big Ragu appreciated this. The restaurants hayday was in the 1940’s when they served 5,000 customers a day. Yes, we said each day. The “new” Culp’s Cafe is in Historic Carrillon Park. It is also a ‘cool’ place to hang out ..
22) ORVILLE WRIGHT USED TO TEACH HIS NIECES AND NEPHEWS HOW TO MAKE FUDGE AND HARD CANDY:
Nothing like keeping the kids occupied with a little foodie fun. If things had went differently, he could have been Dayton’s version of Willy Wonka !
23) BRIXX ICE COMPANY IS NAMED BECAUSE THE BUILDING WAS ACTUALLY AN ICE COMPANY THAT SUPPLIED DAYTON IN THE LATE 1800’s:
The restaurant across from the Dayton Dragon’s stadium, used to be an ice company that supplied most of Dayton with ice. They were singing “Ice, Ice, Baby” back in the day!
24) ICE CUBE TRAYS AND FREON REFRIGERANT WERE BOTH DAYTON INVENTIONS.
Ice cube trays were invented in 1959 by Arthur Frei, while Freon Refrigerant was invented by Thomas Midgley Jr. in 1928.
25) THE TROPICS, AN ICONIC RESTAURANT ON NORTH MAIN STREET, BROUGHT IN CHEFS FROM CHICAGO.
Now we know how they made their one of a kind cuisine. Luring “windy city chefs” in with lucrative deals. This restaurant seated 700 people at it’s peak during the 60’s and 70’s. At that time it was one of America’s top rated restaurants.
That’s it, thats the list .. hope you found some fun facts ,a and interesting conversation pieces you may not have known. Dayton has a great history of food, and now you know a little more about it!
Did you like our story on Dayton Food Trivia? Then make sure you “like” Food Adventures with Big Ragu and the Crew on FACEBOOK by clicking HERE !!
Check out the gallery below of funny photos relating to Dayton food trivia !