Ever find yourself thinking about some forbidden delicacy? Wish you could throw caution to the winds and … ? Well, the delicacy I’m thinking of is forbidden by something even stronger than scripture or law. It no longer exists – except in memory.
This dreamy item was a moist, devil’s food cupcake with vanilla coconut icing. All the local grocery stores used to carry it. I remember devouring endless two-packs of the little things when I was a kid, and relishing every bite.
Sad to say, the maker of the treat – the Kingston Cake Co. - has been gone since the 1970s. I hope some angels with chef caps are stirring the cupcake batter up in Heaven, because I’ve been trying my best to be good in hopes of having just one more chance to plunk down 10 cents for … . Oh, I can’t go on!
Come to think of it, there are plenty of other bodacious products that used to be made right here in Wyoming Valley. Let’s see how many we can identify. Some are real antiques, but others you might remember if you go back to the 1960s.
1. A beer, brewed in Edwardsville, whose ads featured a bearded spokesman identified as “The Professor.”
2. A brand of ice cream, made in Plymouth, whose advertising featured a giant, singing cone.
3. Lace curtains made at a huge factory in Wilkes-Barre.
4. An automobile, nicknamed “the Silent Six,” made in Forty Fort.
5. A brand of soda, bottled in Wilkes-Barre, whose label featured a smiling, motherly looking woman.
6. Cigars, under various labels, made at this plant in Kingston.
7. A line of cookies and crackers baked in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
8. Huge railroad locomotives, built at this factory in South Wilkes-Barre.
9. A brand of potato chips, from Kingston, that used a Scotsman as its logo.
10. Shoes, made in Edwardsville, and sold in a chain of stores.
11. A brand of anthracite coal named for its non-black color.
12. A shirt company on South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre, near the bridge.
13. A bakery in Wilkes-Barre that delivered products door-to-door.
14. A Wilkes-Barre factory that made thick wire cables, used all over the world.
15. A major maker of early-20th-century adding machines, in Kingston.
The bottom line is that Wyoming Valley used to be a huge manufacturing area. Our most famous industries, of course, were coal mining and railroading. But people still came here from all over to work in our plants of all kinds.
Some were huge. Did you know, for instance, that in 1934, General Cigar of Kingston had 1,400 people on the payroll? And that was during the Great Depression. Life wasn’t perfect, but factories like that provided the jobs that enabled workers to buy homes, educate their children and live happy lives. That could be why Luzerne County in the 1930 U.S. Census had about 110,000 more residents than it has today.
Anyway, here are the answers.
1. Bartels Beer. 2. Golden Quality Ice Cream. 3. The Wyoming Valley Lace Mill. 4. The Mattheson car. 5. Ma’s Old Fashion. 6. General Cigar Co. 7. J.B. Carr Biscuit Co. 8. The Vulcan Iron Works. 9. Laddies Chips. 10. Triangle Shoes. 11. Blue Coal (Glen Alden Coal Co.). 12: Cohen-Fein. 13. Dunbar Bakery. 14. Hazard Wire Rope. 15. Adder Machine Co.
Well, time passes, and we can’t bring back our old favorites.
But aaaahhh, those cupcakes!