5 Things That Are No Longer Around in Duluth / Superior
I LOVE reminiscing about places we USE to have in Duluth/Superior….there’s nothing like sitting around with a group of friends saying “Remember the…..”? Then, the stories start! That’s how the idea for this blog started…my husband was talking about the big slide at the Lake Superior Zoo when we were kids…it was part of a small amusement park they had in the parking lot. It’s not there anymore, but I DID find a picture….when you’re done reading my blog, tell me what YOU miss in the Twin Ports. Make me say ” I remember that!”
1. POP SHOPPE POP STORES
YUM! My favorite? PINEAPPLE flavored Pop Shoppe Pop. Or, for those of you who are technical, soda.
I remember the Pop Shoppe Pop Store in Cloquet, so many flavors to choose from and weird flavors too! That’s what made it so fun!!
My Mom and I would lug the red plastic bin with the empties back to the store and I would get to pick out another 24 flavors. Definitely a highlight in my childhood, is that sad?
It all started in Canada..two guys decided to make their own pop and sell it in their own stores. I suppose because it was in the late 60’s (yes, Pop Shoppe Pop was born way back then…about as old as ME), they thought returnable bottles were the way to go. They called them stubbies and mixed original flavors like Lime Ricky, Black Cherry, Sparkle Up and Festival Dry, to name just a few, because as I mentioned, my favorite was Pineapple!
Then, the two became a trio in 1976 when Eddie Shack, a hockey legend joined The Pop Shoppe.
1983 was the year that the Pop Shoppe craze came to an end, BUT, it was resurrected in the year 2002 by Brian Alger. He was a fan of the soda while growing up, just like me, but he had the ambition that I didn’t and set out to recreate the exact flavor that we and countless others enjoyed 20 years prior.
It was a slow start, but stores started to carry the soda and as a sign of times, DIET Pop Shoppe Pop was introduced. And was I surprised when Chris Allen walked in to the B105 studio with an honest to goodness bottle of Pop Shoppe Pop. [find a location near you here]. We may never go back to actual stand alone Pop Shoppe Pop stores, but at least I can still get the soda!!! And my memories of shopping with my Mom will live on with every burp!
What was YOUR favorite flavor?
2. BIG SLIDE-LAKE SUPERIOR ZOO
Actually, they had a mini amusement park, complete with a little steam engine train on tracks that took you around the park. While they haven’t duplicated the amusement park, they do have the new train and expanded on the concept by taking you around the zoo grounds.
How many of us took a class trip, or field trips as they were called? They use to combine our zoo visit with a trip to the Vista. Inevitably it rained and we sat on our school bus eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies and apple, staring out at the amusement park we had to skip till next year (again), because the weather wasn’t cooperating.
Remember Bessie, the zoo’s elephant? To my knowledge, after she was gone, they never got another. But I remember her round cage, with the piles of straw for her to lay on…of course the smell is memorable too. I just remember watching her and thinking how wrinkly her skin was, how big her eyeball was and how long her eyelashes were!
If you were lucky and your parents had given you enough money for a souvenir, you could get a wax mold of Bessie made in a machine. The result is the picture to the left, although mine was yellow. I haven’t seen those machines around anymore, I wonder why?My other memory of the zoo (now the Lake Superior Zoo on Grand Avenue) was the monkeys. They had many downstairs in the main building, across from the tigers. Back when I went to the zoo they just had bars on the cages…now we watch the animals through glass. Which, I suppose is not only safer for us, but for the animals as well.
What memories do you have going to the zoo in Duluth?
3. SMELT RUN-LESTER RIVER
What happened to all the smelt? Let’s just get this out there, I do not eat smelt, BUT, it was always fun to go and watch the smelters in their chest-high rubber waders, wander into the Lester River and come back to their white 5 gallon buckets with nets overflowing with smelt. We just don’t see the smelt run like they use to! And really, should we call it a smelt run? They don’t even have legs! When I was five I often wondered why they didn’t call it a smelt swim? Remember the Sportsman’s Tent on Park Point with their annual Smelt Fry? My parents had to go EVERY year, and every year, they had to stop at the Canal Park Inn to get me a burger and fries.
There was a saying when you smelted (which is why I never did it), that you had to “bite the head off the first smelt you caught”. I guess you’d call that the early form of Northern Minnesota’s sushi, and I’ve actually seen guys do it!
Did you smelt? Do you eat it? Does anyone know why the smelt aren’t as plentiful as they use to be? Are the water levels or climate change of Lake Superior the culprit?
4. ZAYER SHOPPER CITY
In my lifetime, it was the first store my parents brought me to that had EVERYTHING! I mean, EVERYTHING!!! In a huge warehouse type building with a super high ceiling that was open to the metal supports and fluorescent lighting. At my young age, I thought there was a girl door and a boy door. If you walked in one door (the boy door) you would walk up a concrete ramp to the scent of tires and automotives. On the other side of the building (the girl door), you had soaps, the pharmacy and clothing.
Let me take you through the girl door, after we get past the beauty shop, shampoos and toiletries, we come to the bakery. Take a hard left, walk a few steps and there’s the pet shoppe. As you can see by the ad I located on the Duluth News Tribune Attic website, blogged by Andrew Krueger, they even sold MONKEYS! I use to ask my parents for a monkey all the time, never knew I could get one at Shopper City!
Keep going forward and you would run into the National grocery store (I think it was a National). In the middle of the store was home decor, small appliances, clothing, shoes, EVERYTHING! Growing up in Wrenshall, going to Shopper City was like a road trip with benefits, because I KNEW I was always going to get SOMETHING!
Here’s how Shopper City came to be:
Zayre was founded by brothers Max and Morris Feldberg, who immigrated to the United States from Russia in the early 1900s. Their first chain of stores was the Bell Shoppes, which sold women’s apparel. Zayre entered Minnesota in the early 1970s by purchasing the locally owned Shopper’s City, and rebranding those locations as “Zayre Shopper’s City”. These stores were an early example of the hypermarket concept, which included grocery, automotive, and a barber shop. This version of Zayre was found only in Minnesota. During the early 1970s the company started the TJ Maxx chain.
What are your memories of shopping at Shopper City?
5. THE CHINESE LANTERN
Many special occasions were celebrated at the famous Chinese Lantern in downtown Duluth on Superior Street. Whether it was a birthday, anniversary, or a romantic dinner, it was the place to go. According to Dave Ballard in the Duluth News Tribune Attic, it was THE place to eat if you were famous and in Duluth.
“Elvis ate there. Pearl Bailey ate there. Walter Mondale ate there. The Chinese Lantern had been an institution here for 30 years. It’s the place tourists stop natives on the street and ask about. It’s one of the places – like the Aerial Bridge, like Glensheen – that comes to mind when people think of Duluth.”
I loved the authentic atmosphere, right down to the waiters and waitresses clothing. Remember the round tables they had covered by an Asian roof, right inside the dining room? The food was fantastic and matched to no other, believe me, I’ve tried to find a duplicate, and am still searching!
Then, as I got older, I ventured upstairs for dancing and drinks at the Brass Phoenix. SO much fun, great drink specials and apps and again, the atmosphere, top notch.
Then, the unthinkable happened, a fire in January of 1994, the Northland was in shock! The Chinese Lantern moved, one block up the street, but things were different. I don’t mean the food, or the atmosphere….it was just, different. I miss that place, and many other Northland restaurants that have come and gone. Perhaps that will be a Top 5 Blog for another day.
What are some of the other Northland restaurants you’d like to see make a comeback?
Credit and Thank You to the following: (with apologies if I left anyone out)
Duluth Zoo (now Lake Superior Zoo): Photos: Tom Musolf
Smelt Run: DNT Attic Blogger, Andrew Krueger, Photographer Charles Curtis
Zayer Shopper City: Photo: Roger Nesje, Photo and Info, DNT Attic Blogger, Andrew Krueger, Wikipedia
Chinese Lantern: Photo and Info, DNT: Dave Ballard