Made in the Quad Cities

Lagomarcino's

Lagomarcino's, a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor in the Quad Cities, is famous for its hot fudge sundaes, hand-dipped chocolates, sponge candy and filled chocolate eggs. Angelo, an immigrant from Italy, opened Lagomarcino's Confectionery in Moline, Illinois, in 1908. The original business still operates today with the mahogany booths, Tiffany-style lamps, and a hexagon terrazzo floor with blue flowers. The metal ceiling is still there from when the building was built and the original cigar and candy cases are still in use. The ice cream parlor also has old-fashioned sodas, phosphates and a fruity pop invented by Charlie Lagomarcino in the '20s. Lagomarcino's opened a shop across the river in the historic Village of East Davenport in 1997. Angelo Lagomarcino obtained the secret recipe for their delicious hot fudge sauce from a traveling salesman in the early 1900s. Angelo paid him $25 for the recipe, against his wife's better judgment. She scolded him for spending so much money, but he was right. The same recipe is still used today and has earned Lagomarcino's national and international recognition from well-known culinary magazines and food editors. In a survey by Illinois Magazine published in its July 2002 issue, Lagomarcino's was voted the "Best Homemade Candy" in Northern Illinois.

Boetje's Mustard

Boetje's Mustard is a Quad Cities - and national - favorite. Beginning in 1889, Fred Boetje began making stoneground Dutch mustard in his garage in Rock Island, Illinois. Using the same recipe today of water, mustard seed, sugar, salt and distilled vinegar, Boetje's tops all mustard sales in the local retail market. It even outsells the big three - French's, Kraft and Plochman - by 7 to 1. In a survey by Illinois Magazine published in its July 2002 issue, Boetje's was voted to be the "Best Illinois food product" in Northern Illinois.

Whitey's Ice Cream

Whiteys Ice Cream

A trip to the Quad Cities is not complete without a stop at a Whitey's Ice Cream store. This favorite treat was named "Best in the Midwest" by Midwest Living Magazine. Started by Chester "Whitey" Lindgren in 1933, he ran the store on 16th Street in Moline until 1953 when he sold it to Ron Tunberg. Turning it into a family business, Ron's sons, Jon and Jeff, manage the growing company today - now with over ten locations and selling it wholesale. Over the years, a number of innovations to the industry were born at Whitey's such as: high powered malt machines, extra thick shakes and malts, candy bar shakes, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, to name a few. In a survey by Illinois Magazine published in its October 2002 issue, Whitey's was voted to have the "Best Dessert" in the State of Illinois.

Happy Joe's Pizze & Ice Cream Parlor

Happy Joes

"Happy Joe" Whitty had worked in the bakery business for years before becoming an assistant manager at a Shakey's pizzeria. It was around this time that he decided to combine his baking and pizza management experience into his own business venture. While he worked at Shakey's, he would often hear families decide to go out for ice cream for dessert so he developed a pizza parlor that offered both pizza and ice cream. Whitty opened the first Happy Joe's Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor in the Village of East Davenport, Iowa, in 1972. His signature item was the Happy Joe's Special, a pizza with Canadian bacon and sauerkraut that Whitty created from leftovers in his mother's kitchen. After a franchisee suggested adding tacos to the menu, Whitty invented the restaurant's best-selling product, the Taco Pizza. Now over 60 restaurants dot the Midwest. In a survey by Illinois Magazine published in its October 2002 issue, Happy Joe's was voted to have the "Best Pizza" in the State of Illinois.

Maid-Rite

Maid-Rite

In 1926, when Fred Angell, a respected butcher in the Quad Cities area combined a special cut and grind of meat with a selected set of spices, he created the one and only Maid-Rite sandwich. As legend goes, Mr. Angell asked a delivery man, at his restaurant in Muscatine, Iowa, to taste his newest sandwich creation. After a few bites, the taster exclaimed, "You know, Fred, this sandwich is just made right." Thus the signature sandwich name was born. Maid-Rite has withstood the test of time for over 76 years. The first four original franchises granted in the 1920's are still in operation today and now third generation family members are operating family-owned Maid-Rite's. Maid-Rite is one of America's first quick-service, casual dining franchise restaurants. They were ahead of their time as one of the first places to have drive-up, walk-up windows for customer convenience. Maid-Rite restaurants are located mainly in Iowa and the throughout the Midwest.

John Deere

When John Deere moved to Illinois from Vermont, he learned that the commonly used cast-iron plows of the day performed poorly in the sticky soil of the Midwest. Convinced that a plow with a highly polished surface would clean, or scour itself as it moved through the field, Deere fashioned just such an implement in 1837, using steel from a broken saw blade. In 1848 John Deere moved his operation to Moline, Illinois, to take advantage of the water power and transportation the river offered. From there, Deere & Co. is now one of the oldest companies in the U.S. and the world headquarters are still located in Moline. Factories are still located in the Quad Cities region and they make a only portion of the equipment Deere produces, including combines, tractors, planters, seeders, and hydraulic cylinders.

Sliced Bread

The Quad Cities is actually better than, well-sliced bread! Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, invented a machine to slice bread in 1912. He incorporated a wrapping device into his machine in 1928. John Hansen, the plant supervisor, had an idea for a better blade so he started his own company in 1933, the Hansaloy Corporation. Hansaloy is still the world's largest producer of bread slicing blades. Each blade is capable of cutting 50-75 loaves per minute on production lines.

Cookies BBQ Sauce

From its humble beginning operating out of the Wall Lake Fire Department in 1975, this Iowa company has grown by leaps and bounds. Cookies BBQ Sauce won the famous annual Kansas City BBQ sauce competition in 2001. The event is the largest competition in the world attracting hundreds of entries from around the world. Cookies makes over 20,000 gallons of sauce each week.

Dairy Queen

The inventors of Dairy Queen's soft-serve ice cream, J.F. "Grandpa" McCullough and his son, Alex, had been selling ice cream since they opened their store in Davenport, Iowa, in 1927. On a mission to develop a softer ice cream, these Quad Citians held a very successful test run in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938 and then a second in Moline, Illinois. The first Dairy Queen opened in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940 and then a second in Moline a year later. A third was opened in Aurora, Illinois, and then a fourth began in Davenport in 1942. The Davenport location is still in operation today. East Moline, Illinois, is the largest producer of the dispensing machines after beginning the work in 1943.

Root & VanDervoort Engineering Company

William H. VanDervoort organized the Root & VanDervoort Engineering Company in 1899, shortly after he left the Univ. of Illinois. He and fellow classmate Orlando Root began to manufacture portable and stationary engines in East Moline, Illinois. From the first, the R&V Co. sold a portion of its product through the Deere organization. During the winter of 1912, Deere & Co. contracted for the sale of the product in all parts of the world. The R&V engines had a green finish, coupled with black and gold striping making these engines some of the most attractive, in their time, in the entire industry.

Ad
Connect

Enter your email and press Enter to sign up for twice-monthly emails about Quad Cities news and events.