Candy House Gourmet

One of my favorite houses in Joplin is located downtown. However, a family doesn’t live there.

 

Chocolate does.

 

candy house facade

This is Candy House Gourmet, where handcrafted treats are made using recipes that locals have craved for decades.

 

Candy-House-Historic

The original location of this candy store opened in 1970 in an old rock tavern on Redings Mill Road, just south of Joplin. Back then, it was called Richardson’s Candy House, and was owned by Don and Peggy Richardson. I sampled a chocolate from here the very first time I visited Joplin in 1992, and it was love at first bite.

 

Over the years, ownership of the Candy House has changed, with the business actually closing for a period of time, causing sadness among its loyal customers and local chocoholics. Thankfully, it came back to life in December 2016 as Candy House Gourmet when Cara and Wayne Adolphsen (who also own Joplin’s Mizzou Aviation) purchased the business. The Adolphsens also hired its former employees, which was a smart move, considering they knew their way around the candy kitchen and were already familiar to the customers.

 

What are the specialties of Candy House Gourmet? The original-recipe treats include toffee, caramel pecan treats (turtles), brittle, fudge, divinity, pecan logs, and sea salt caramels – the dark chocolate ones are my favorites. Unfortunately, my kids like them, too, so I have to share (but only if they catch me before I can stash the caramels in my secret hiding place).

 

Candy-House-Case (1)

In addition to producing local classics, the Adolphsens have fun experimenting in the test kitchen, and have already added some new candies, including the Banana Split Cream, which is half banana, half strawberry, and topped with chopped peanuts.

 

In the spring, Candy House Gourmet offers chocolate-dipped strawberries and, in the fall, chocolate-covered caramel apples. These aren’t just any chocolate-covered apples; they are both inventive and HUGE!

 

candy house apples

Until this year, my favorite apple has been the Deluxe, which is drizzled with three types of chocolate, and then sprinkled with pecans. The Adolphsens have now introduced the Apple Pie flavor, as well as the Sea Salt Caramel one. Can you can guess which one is my new favorite?

 

Candy House Gourmet also makes gourmet popcorn in traditional flavors like Sweet Caramel Nut Corn, and new flavors like spicy Cinnamon Corn. You can buy the popcorn individually, or try a few flavors (plus some chocolates) by purchasing one of the mixed baskets from the Candy House Gourmet’s gift guide. The guide also includes customizable chocolate bars, which make fun one-of-a-kind gifts.

 

candy house interior

Do you want to see how all of these sweet treats are made? You can! Candy House Gourmet offers tours of the facility which you can arrange by calling 877-623-7171. Tours are generally available during the week, but during the busy winter holiday months the candy elves are busy filling orders, so please call before you visit.

 

Here are some highlights from my own group tour of Candy House Gourmet:

 

The first thing we saw was the Peppy Pumper, a machine that spurts out chocolate from a faucet which is used to fill different shaped molds, such as eggs at Easter and the very popular “brain” mold sold at Halloween time.

 

Candy-House-Peppy-1

Next we saw the enrober, where items such as Oreos get bathed in chocolate and then take a slow ride down a conveyor belt through an air-cooled tunnel where they emerge cloaked in hardened chocolate 13 minutes later.
 
Candy-House-Enrober-out

We saw an actual dried cocoa pod,

 

Candy-House-Pod

Cocoa pod

 

as well as cocoa beans and powder, plus a crate of ten-pound chocolate bars that they melt and use in their recipes. Each crate holds 2000 pounds of chocolate!

 

Candy-House-Bar

The kitchen is where all of the candy centers (such as caramel) are made. When production was at the Redings Mill location, a granite-slab table was used in the caramel-making process, but they were making so much of it that the granite wasn’t getting time to cool and the caramel was sticking to it. Now, they use these fancy water-jacketed tables, where cool water below the table surface keeps the caramel from sticking.

 

Candy-House-Caramel tableA table of caramel – I want this in my dining room!

 

Are you salivating yet? Me, too.

 

I know I speak for many Joplinites when I say how grateful I am to the Adolphsens for resurrecting this Joplin institution – for bringing back our favorite candies and for introducing us to new favorites.

 

Candy House Gourmet is located at 510 S. Kentucky in Joplin. Click here to visit the Candy House website, and click here to visit it on Facebook.

 

*For people with food allergies, please be aware that Candy House Gourmet is filled with food allergens, such as nuts and dairy, and all of their items are labeled accordingly. If you have a peanut allergy, you might appreciate knowing that, while all of the products share the same equipment, all of the peanut products are run at the very end of the day and the equipment is cleaned immediately afterwards, which reduces the risk of contact.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

The Eagle Drive-In

With its sleek black-and-red trim, mirrored windows, and retro sign, The Eagle Drive-In looks like a typical American burger joint from the 1950s. In fact, burgers are served here – they’re just not the kind you expect at a typical drive-in.

 

eagle facade

Take the Salted Caramel Bacon Burger or the Buffalo Bill Burger (a bison burger topped with a blueberry barbecue sauce): it’s like Julia Child waltzed into a Wendy’s and fused its basic menu with her epicurean sophistication. It’s an unlikely scenario to imagine, but it does exist right here in Joplin.

 

Except in Joplin, Jason Miller is our Julia Child. A hometown boy and New York-trained chef, Miller is the owner of The Eagle Drive-In, as well as Instant Karma, a restaurant in downtown Joplin where gourmet hot dogs are the stars. Miller brings ingenuity and worldliness to the menus at both restaurants, and his novel dishes have created a loyal and wide following among area diners.

 

My friend Carrie and I are two of those loyal diners, and we recently met for lunch at The Eagle Drive-In. While the restaurant no longer functions as a drive-in, it retains its nostalgic charm – and size. So if you arrive during the busy lunch or dinner rush, be prepared to wait, as there are only about 10 tables inside. But I promise that your patience will pay off.

 

eagle interior

On the day Carrie and I visited, I ordered a water to drink (it was a work day for me), but The Eagle Drive-In’s Jalapeno Margarita occupied my mind.

 

eagle jalapeno margarita

This spicy, refreshing drink has made my eyes water each time I’ve ordered it, but I don’t let that little inconvenience stop me from sipping this tasty libation. Other adult beverage options here include 10 beers on tap (which change regularly), Bloody Marys (regular and spicy), as well as a full bar.

 

eagle tap

For an appetizer, I ordered Joplin’s Spiciest Shrimp Cocktail, made with plump jumbo shrimp and house-made spicy horseradish sauce.

 

eagle shrimp

The shrimp were so huge that I only ate two and took the rest home for my incredibly appreciative husband Travis. More adventurous eaters can choose from appetizers like mussels, bone marrow, calamari, and chicken-fried escargot.

 

For my entree, I ordered the classic Eagle Burger, a ⅓-pound beef patty topped with Cheddar and Swiss cheeses, mixed greens, tomato, onion, pickle, and – here’s the twist – a fried quail egg and Eagle sauce (a creamy red sauce with a touch of smoke and spice).

 

eagle burger

A fluffy brioche bun added another story to this architectural creation, and I felt sorry for Carrie who had to watch me try to stuff this monstrous burger into my mouth.

 

Then again, Carrie had a similar challenge with the huge Falafel Sub, which is a great menu option for vegetarians; it’s also easily modified for vegans, like Carrie, by omitting the feta and tzatziki sauce.

 

eagle falafel

The Eagle Drive-In also offers other unique burgers made from lamb, elk, or salmon, as well as a variety of sandwiches, salads, and main entrees like Ahi tuna and beef tips. You can also abandon the menu and go with the flow by ordering the chef’s creation of the day.

 

If you order a burger or a sandwich, you get to choose one side dish, and both Carrie and I picked the hand-cut fries which come with the choice of two dipping sauces. With over a dozen sauces to choose from, this was a difficult decision, but I finally went with the Curry Aioli (subtle and creamy) and the Wasabi Aioli (lively, yet not overpowering).

 

If the temperatures outside had been warmer, we would have eaten at one of The Eagle Drive-In’s picnic tables. I like seeing Joplin restaurants adding outdoor dining spaces. We have a pretty nice climate here (compared to Chicago, where I grew up), and I always look for places where I can be outside while I eat.

 

eagle sign

The Eagle Drive-In may look like a typical retro drive-in, but it will surprise you with its creative gourmet menu items. It just might become your new regular hangout.

 

The Eagle Drive-In is located at 4224 Hearnes Boulevard in Joplin. Click here to visit its website, and click here to find out what the daily special is on its Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Spiva Membership Show

Admit it.

 

You do it.

 

I do it.

 

At one point every single one of us is guilty of plugging into mass-produced cultural entertainment of – let’s face it – marginal quality in our recreational time.

 

Why?

 

Because it’s easy. It requires very little effort on our part. Just log in to Netflix and zone away.

 

While doing so has its place in the hierarchy of destressing modes, we often forget that there are other ways in which we can unwind while simultaneously enriching our lives.

 

But that takes planning, and travel time, and money, you say. (Geez, you sound like my children!)

 

If your mission is to travel to Kansas City, or Tulsa, or northwest Arkansas to visit the revered cultural institutions there, then, yes, it will take some effort and planning.

 

But I’m here to tell you that there is another way. You can forgo that hassle and refill your cultural well right here in Joplin with very little planning or travel time.

 

And you can do it for free.

 

spiva membership dream

Perchance to Dream by Paula Giltner

 

On a recent Saturday, I announced to my brood that we would be going to the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts that afternoon to view the annual membership show. My declaration was met with belabored groans and steely glares that silently cursed me.

 

Who did I think I was trying to enrich their lives?

 

Afternoon came, and after thirty minutes of gently reminding my family that we would soon be leaving and barely receiving a grunt in response, I began turning off and unplugging various devices. You can guess how well that went over.

 

We finally piled into the minivan, along with a variety of Oscar-caliber whining and complaining. During the ten-minute drive to Spiva, I tuned out the back-seat grumbling and focused on my breathing, silently repeating this mantra: I will expose them to culture. I will expose them to culture. I will expose them to culture.

 

And they’ll like it, by golly. That’s the censored version of my thought, anyway.

 

Once inside the exhibit at Spiva, it only took a few minutes before I noticed a change in my kids. At times, they were actually getting lost in their thoughts while studying the artwork, and at other times they were enjoying the playful side of artistic expression.

 

 

spiva membership geese

My littlest chick posing by Ruth Millers Under the Feather

 

This exhibit was the Spiva Membership Show, which takes place at the end of every year. Admission to the exhibit is free, although donations are always welcome.

 

This annual exhibit showcases the work of around 100 area artists; we have some incredibly talented artists in the Joplin area, I might add.

 

The Membership Show was juried, and there were cash prizes totaling $2,400 awarded in the adult category, and prizes totaling $600 in the youth category.

 

spiva membership sunflowerShy Sunflower by Darla Hare

 

There were ceramics, watercolors, oil paintings, photographs, sculptures, and mixed media pieces.

 

 

spiva membership flightThe Dream of Flight by Jeffrey Jones

 

Not only was I excited to surround myself and my family with high-quality art, I was surprised to discover that I had met at least half of the artists whose works were on exhibit. I don’t say that to give you the impression that I frequent art galleries all the time, dahling. Actually, most of my time is spent running kids to their various activities, so on the rare occasion that I meet a local artist whose talent blows me away, it makes quite an impression on me.

 

It just so happens that there are some big players making their rounds in the arts community here in the Ozarks, and they’ve got my attention.

 

spiva membership wisemanPrincess and the Pea by Natalie Wiseman

 

An added bonus of the Membership Show is that many of the pieces were for sale; the pieces that I liked the most ranged in price from $100 to $3,200.

 

Dear Family: Read this post carefully for gift ideas for Christmas and/or my birthday, and/or just because you love me for exposing you to real-life culture. In addition to the pieces in the exhibit, there’s also some incredible jewelry in Spiva’s gift gallery that caught my eye. Oh, and a gift certificate to a Spiva art class would make a nice present, too – remember that funglass tray I made at a class there?

 

spiva membership doerrBirth of a Black Hole by Steve Doerr

 

When we were finished exploring the exhibit, I asked my family which pieces were their favorites. Here were their responses:

 

spiva membership danteTeenager’s favorite: Dave’s Pain by Kevin Myers. Is she trying to tell me something?

 

spiva membership eclipseMiddle child’s favorite: Eclipse by Josie Mai

 

spiva membership birdYoungest child’s favorite was Refugio: Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, by Brenda Sageng

 

spiva membership dogHusband’s favorite: Mama’s Little Angel by Robyn Cook

 

spiva membership ameliaMy favorite: St. Amelia – Patron Saint of Amassment and Collection by Michele DeSutter

 

As we were leaving Spiva’s parking lot, I asked my family, “Who had a good time?”

 

Every single one of those former complainers immediately answered, “I did!”

 

Ha!

 

Take that, Netflix. You don’t own us. We have the power to break free from our electronic trances and expose ourselves to real-life culture.

 

And we can fill up our cultural well right here in Joplin.

 

spiva membership circusLife is a Circus by Debbie Reed

 

 

Spiva is located at 222 West Third Street in Joplin.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre

“The GPS is telling me to turn here,” said my husband Travis. “Is this it?”

 

I’d been so busy selecting songs on my phone to play on the drive from Joplin to Carthage that I’d neglected my duties as navigator. Thank goodness Google Maps had been paying attention.

 

I glanced up to see a light brown building on top of a hill, nestled among several pine trees. A sign by the street read “Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre.”

 

stones throw sign

“This is it,” I said.

 

We had tickets for the Saturday evening performance of Mind Over Matt, a play by Scott Haan. The doors opened at 6:00 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the performance at 7:30 p.m. Travis and I arrived shortly before dinner and, honestly, I was wondering how we would pass an entire hour before the play started. After all, we didn’t know anyone there.

 

Getting Seated

We handed our tickets to the usher who led us to our table. We were seated with six other people; half of them had been coming there for years, and the other half were newbies, just like us. I thought it might be awkward being seated at a table of strangers, but conversation came easily – and even lead to a serendipitous moment.

 

stones throw tables

About ten minutes after we were seated, a man sat down between Travis and the “regular” couple, whom he was meeting there. He looked familiar to me, and I mentally tried to place him. When that didn’t work (thanks a lot, memory), I started asking him questions to figure out where our paths might have crossed.

 

It finally dawned on me that I’d seen him at Joplin’s Stained Glass Theatre. His name is Karl Wendt, and he and his wife Shannon had performed songs at a children’s theater production (which they also directed) that we’d taken our daughter to see. When I told Karl I’d written a blog post about our experience at that performance, he said he knew that because he had just been reading that very post earlier that day. How cool is that?

 

Serendipitous.

 

Shortly after that aha! moment, a server came by with our first course, and Karl introduced us to her; she was his wife Shannon who was volunteering as a server at Stone’s Throw that evening. Up until that point, I wasn’t aware that the theater is a not-for-profit organization run completely by volunteers. As I observed the volunteers that night, I could tell that they were passionate about their cause by the way they attentively and enthusiastically served the guests; they genuinely wanted everyone to have a great time.

 

 

Dinner

Dinner service began with a Caesar salad, topped with fresh Parmesan cheese.

 

stones throw salad

The home-style entree was Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, whiskey glazed carrots, and a flaky dinner roll. It was simple and delicious.

 

stones throw salisbury steak

If you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, you can let them know when you make your reservations and they will accommodate your needs.

 

Wine and beer tokens are available at the box office for those who are interested, and guests can purchase up to two tokens each.

 

 

The Performance

Before I knew it, the dinner hour was over and the play began. Even though our table was near the back, we could still see and hear everything, thanks to the intimate size of the theater.

 

The production’s engaging cast consisted of local actors who put their all into their roles and played them with an energy equal to that of the theater’s volunteers.

 

stones throw stage

The actors in Mind Over Matt portrayed different aspects of the main character Matt’s personality, kind of like the animated movie Inside Out. It was witty and quick-paced.

 

At intermission, dessert was served: warm peach cobbler bathed in cinnamon ice cream. It was dreamy.

 

stones throw peach cobbler

It was a great night; give me good food and quality entertainment and I’m one happy lady.

 

Considering that the theater charges just $26 per adult* for a fun and unique Saturday night, I think that Stone’s Throw is a hidden gem in our area.

 

But, thankfully, my GPS can find it.

 

 

Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre is located at 2466 West Old 66 Boulevard in Carthage. Click here to visit its website, and here to see its Facebook page.

*Stone’s Throw pricing as of 10/17:  Adults (19-54) $26.00; Seniors (55 and up) $23.00; Student (w/ID)  $22.00; Youth (13-18) $21.00;  Children (6-12) $12.00; Children (under 5) free.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

 

Jorge Leyva: Joplin’s World-Class Artist

It’s a unique sight to see in Joplin: the expansive green lawn in front of Jorge Leyva’s home dotted with a handful of large metal sculptures. Some of them are brightly colored, while others stand gray and raw, awaiting the time when they, too, will be painted into life.

 

leyva red sculpture

Like flowers in a garden, these exquisite sculptures bloom in their own time, in their own way. “I believe in beauty and in beautifying the place where I exist,” says Jorge.

 

And he doesn’t want to keep this beauty to himself. He wants others to see, feel, and experience the art themselves, which is why he’s opened his sculpture garden to the public – for free.

 

leyva blue sculpture

There aren’t many parks or other public spaces in town where people can go to see artistic pieces like fountains and sculptures. But that is beginning to change, and Jorge is playing a big part of the public art movement in Joplin.

 

His mission is to educate his town about “the importance of having something visual where people can participate and feel alive.” He recently dedicated a piece that he created for the Joplin Public Library called “Revering the Phoenix Effect,” which represents how Joplin rose from the dust after the tornado.

 

leyva library

At its dedication ceremony, Jorge watched as a little girl walked up to the sculpture and began playing with one of the houses on it like it was a Lego. “She was encountering herself with art,” says Jorge, and that’s the kind of experience that he hopes everyone who comes across his art will have.

 

A wise – and extremely humble – man, Jorge has worked as an artist for 25 years. Originally from Peru, he came to Missouri to study engineering, but a close friend helped him see that his true talent was expressing himself through art. He graduated from Missouri Southern State University with a BA, from Pittsburg State University with an MA, and then from California College of the Arts with an MFA.

 

He’s artwork has been sold worldwide, and his sculptures are carried by Nuart Gallery in Santa Fe. His work is valuable, but not necessarily affordable. For his private clients, he creates “luxury,” but for those of us living in Joplin, he creates accessibility. We get the chance to see his work at Joplin Public Library, Spiva Center for the Arts, as well as at Jorge’s own home.

 

Spiva-sculpture

Sculpture at Spiva Center for the Arts

 
It’s refreshing to see that an artist of Jorge’s caliber genuinely cares about his hometown and strives to contribute to his community in many ways. Not only does he share his artwork in public spaces, but he also collaborates with local people in finishing his metal sculptures, like by using a local sandblaster/painter who adds the vibrant color to his creations.

 

Visiting Jorge’s sculpture garden is a fulfilling experience, made even more so if you have the chance to interact with the artist himself. Talking to Jorge is like salve for the soul: he’s funny and comforting; charming and insightful. In order to visit, you’ll need to call ahead (417-623-8085): the gates are closed at night and on the weekends unless he’s at home working.

 

While you’re there, ask to see his indoor studio. While I was there, he was working on paintings with “cocoon clouds,” clouds filled with depth that represent metamorphosis.

 

leyva cloud coccoons

Who knew that so much could be represented in clouds?

 

Jorge did.

 

While his work has changed over time, one theme that has remained constant, in both his work and his life, is gratitude – gratitude for his creativity, for the people who interact with his work, and for the people who support it. “Joplin has embraced me beautifully. Nothing is equal to having my own town and its people embrace me so well.”

 

leyva scales of nature

“Weighing in on the Scales of Nature” represents the rebuilding of Joplin after the tornado. “People in Joplin are resilient,” says Jorge. “They are about home.”

 

To visit Jorge Leyva’s sculpture garden at 1305 East Vandalia Street, call 417-623-8085. Click here to see Jorge’s website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.