Progressive dinners are so “Mad Men.” The new way to nosh is a progressive snack line that wends through a city, and Wichita, Ks.,is the place to munch and meander.
The city of more than 380,000 in south central Kansas pops corn and glazes donuts with the best of them. On a recent road trip, the Food Channel’s Alton Brown dubbed Wichita’s Nifty Nuts “a national treasure.”
Limber up on your bike or pop into the car for Wichita’s Snack-o-Rama.
Nifty Nuts has been scooping up nuts for Wichita’s nibblers since 1937. The giant shop, more than 5,000 square feet of nuts and candies, is busy year round but jammed at Christmas.
The almonds, pecans, peanuts and cashews are roasted on site in coconut oil and then tossed in a wide range of flavors. Altogether, Nifty Nuts offers 165 different varieties.
The Donut Whole specializes in cake donuts with locally sourced ingredients, topped with handmade glazes. They serve 50 to 60 varieties a day, such as Cherry Streusel, Root Beer Float and Fluffer Nutter. The best-seller is Maple Bacon, with bacon crumbled onto the top. Look for mom-and-pop sodas, too, and locally churned Mexican ice cream.
Cero’s Candies has been tempting Wichitans since 1885, when “Candy Pete” Cero, a Greek sailor, anchored in Wichita for railroad work. In the 1930s, the Ceros helped develop milk chocolate at its factory.
The family no longer owns the confectionary, but the exquisite chocolate-covered nougat carries over from those days. Now Pam Bishop and Darcy Bishop Thrasher create such truffles as Fire and Persian Jewel, along with caramels, sponge toffee and candied orange peels. Their ice creams are now famous, with pistachio, butter pecan, banana and locally grown peach.
Have a craving for popcorn but can’t quite decide? Kernel’s Popcorn Express may be ready to help—they pop up 35 flavors.
On the sweet side, consider Raspberry, Chocolate Cherry and Caramel Cashews. On the savory, Bacon Cheddar, Creamy Dill and Jalapeno. Still undecided? Maybe Tutti Frutti, with 13 flavors swirled together.
The truffles of Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates are nearly too beautiful to eat. Nearly.
Each is handmade and hand-decorated with Fair Trade chocolate, mostly from Belgium. The elegant morsels range from the dainty fleur-de-lis Scotch, whose ganache is flavored with 12-year-old Glenmorangie single malt, to the Sinful Mint, a truffle of 70 percent organic essential oil of peppermint that rises from the tray like a geodesic dome. The shops carry dozens of flavors and designs, with Crème Brulee, Champagne and Salted Caramel setting the sales pace.
And to savor alongside Wichita’s moveable feast? Maybe a glass of El Gato! Moscato wine, named for the winery cat of Grace Hill Winery in nearby Whitewater, Ks.
When you go
The Donut Whole
Kernel’s Popcorn Express
Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates
Grace Hill Winery