By Kevin Williams
SIGH, I have talked about Bill Knapps before – many times. And for those of you who live outside of the midwestern USA, forgive me for talking about something so provincial. For those who don’t remember, or don’t live in my area, Bill Knapp’s was a chain of restaurants in the Midwest that catered largely to senior citizens. So when my grandparents took us out to eat to Bill Knapps, my brother and I were in good company, almost everyone there consisted of white-haired grandparents taking their children and grandchildren out to eat.
My paternal grandparents will always be synonymous with Bill Knapps. Each restaurant was laid out the same, the decor a very retro green and white. This was their kids menu.
There was always a rack of comic books in the front of the restaurant and my brother would make a beeline for those. They were strategically placed so that restless kids would have something to do if you had to wait a bit for a table. How quaint, comic books. Today almost every kid just whips out an electronic device to while away the time.
But Bill Knapp’s isn’t totally dead. You see, another amazing memory of those days was the chocolate birthday cake…perfectly round, the icing immaculately applied and thick. The recipe and name were bought by a Michigan bakery after Bill Knapp’s went out of business in 2002. I’ve actually been to the bakery in Michigan where those cakes are made. I was there on other business, but I was taken to see the assembly line where the cakes are made and put into those familiar white boxes.
The line of products like the Bill Knapp’s cakes won’t be around forever. Their youngest customers would be around my age, so the cakes could stick around another decade or two but with each passing year those that remember them will be fewer and fewer…