Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dutch Bakery and Bulk Foods, Tipton, Missouri

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this scene, here in the Midwest, where large, centralized (and often overpriced) health-food bulk grocery stores are hard to find, we rely on Mennonite- or Amish-run stores out in the country for bulk ingredients.

Apart from highway signs, these stores don’t do a lot of advertising; most customers just “know” they’re there, by word of mouth.

The Dutch Bakery is on Highway 50 on the west side of Tipton, Missouri. It’s run by a family of Old Order Mennonites, and the store’s been there twenty-three years. (The owner told me that they started selling baked goods and produce at the Sedalia and Jeff City farmers’ markets five years before the store opened, so they’ve actually been in business since about 1982.)

Here’s a picture taken in late 2009, with the leaves gone. Notice anything unusual? How about that! Yes, it’s true—the World’s Largest 8-Ball looms like an alien eyeball over this sincere little grocery store!

See, there’s history: This water tower was painted to look like a huge 8-ball because Fischer Manufacturing, a billiard company, used to be right there by the water tower. When Spalding bought them out in 1968, Fischer was the country’s largest builder of pool tables. Tipton’s quite proud of its landmark!

Anyway, it’s quirky juxtapositions like this—the Mennonite grocery sitting there, keeping a straight face, beneath this giant goofy 8-Ball—that make small towns such a gas.

And if you’re driving along Highway 50, you have no excuse for “missing” the Dutch Bakery—just look for the Giant 8-Ball!

By the way, if you’re reading this and are not sure you’ll feel comfortable venturing into the “different culture” of a Mennonite-run grocery store, get over yourself! Yes, Mennonites are rather soft-spoken; the women wear those little caps; and you’ll probably overhear some musical and unintelligible Pennsylvania- or Swiss-German dialect—but make no mistake: You are welcome here, and they, like all store owners, are glad to sell you their stuff!

At Dutch Market, in addition to a huge variety of bulk foods, pasta, snacks, dried fruits, and baking supplies, they also sell hanging baskets, vegetable starts, and bedding plants in season; wooden lawn furniture; homemade bakery goods; home-canning supplies; meats and cheeses; and fresh local produce.

Part grocery, part produce-stand, and part bakery, this is where I got the cantaloupe the other day that became Ginger Melon Sorbet. I also got some pumpkin-walnut bread and a Swedish tea ring (day-old, discounted—give me a break) and some nice ripe yellow and red tomatoes. (Yes, the good kind!) There were also new potatoes, squash, cucumbers, and plenty more.

And bulk spices! —I had run out of bay leaves. At Dutch Bakery, I bought their smallest plastic sack of bulk bay leaves (I think it’s fresher when they bag it from bulk)—0.13 lb. (which is at least ten times as much as you get in a bottle of Durkee) for 85 cents. The only problem with this? Now I’ve got lots more bay than I know what to do with. What a hardship, huh?

Unlike a lavish, orthorexic-approved Whole Foods supermarket (or “Whole Paycheck,” as some of my friends call it), Dutch Bakery sells some bulk items that can’t be called “health foods.” Many of the dried fruits are stabilized with sulpher dioxide, and they can be tinted with, say, FD&C Yellow #6. (They are plainly marked, so it’s not like they’re hiding it from you.)

And you can buy, in bulk, all kinds of powdered and dehydrated soup and dip mixes—which, compared to homemade soups and sauces from scratch, are at a minimum just sad, and at worst, an abomination. (Unless you're camping or something.) I saw you can also get bags of that fluorescent-neon-orange powder that you add to cooked macaroni to make a bulk-foods equivalent to “Kraft Mac & Cheese.” Again, it’s not exactly “health food.” But then—if you’re wanting to feed your army on the cheap, this is the place for you.

I love it that I can get my healthy bulk grains there. Oat bran muffins, here we come!

The summary: It’s a family-run, small, local business. They’ve got great prices on a bunch of stuff that you want to buy. The produce is top-notch. The drive there is pleasant. And you’ll smile.

Plus, while you’re there, you can take pictures of the World’s Largest 8-Ball!

More Information That You Didn’t Ask for but Ought to Know

There’s a lot more to enjoy in Tipton, Missouri, such as the Vanilla Grill (believed by some to have the best chocolate ice cream ever), and Ghetto Superstar. Tipton is also the hometown of Gene Clark (a founding member of the Byrds), and he’s buried there. So if you’re a fan, you have to make a pilgrimage to the St. Andrew Catholic Cemetery, now, too!

Dutch Bakery Bulk Food Store on Urbanspoon

ADDENDUM, October 8, 2010
In light of the enthusiastic endorsements below, I went and got some of the Dutch Bakery's "Dutch letters." Here's my post on them.


JaneL said...

Gene Clark was born in Tipton?!? How could I not have known that?

Julianna Schroeder said...

Yeah! Mid-Missouri's full of surprises, ain't it!

Michael said...

Anyone who reads this, you have, have, have to get a dutch letter. Flaky hand-crafted pastry with a delicious creamy almond filling, baked into, you guessed it, the shape of letters. And I have to say their deli counter is fantastic. Twice now on the monthly-ish trek we make from Jeff to Kansas City, My wife and bought a letter and a German Bologna sandwich, and split them both- the sandwich is delicious and huge, an incredible deal for $3.50. The pastrami is also top notch- and there are plenty of good cheeses to choose from. The bread- we always get the whole wheat- is sliced an odd thickness and is slightly chewy on the outside, tender on the inside- clearly they make it themselves. It's a family tradition; our kids beg to stop so they can stock up on soda bottle candy (yes! like you remember from childhood!), strawberry twizzler ropes, zagnut-like things (!!!), and- my daughter's favorite0 caramels. It's also the only place I can get the sort of pasta that is shaped just like commercial Mac and Cheese, so I can sneak veggies and a skim-milk bechamel in the sauce of my homemade mac and cheese.

Nice write-up!

Julianna Schroeder said...

Michael, you're right about the bakery, deli, and the snack goods, none of which I spent much time on in my post.

I've never eaten a "letter," apart from, say, alphabet soup, but now you've got me interested.

For such a small place, they really have a lot to offer.

Thanks for chiming in!

Jane said...

My mother's family plot is nearly under the 8-ball. We go there to garden on the graves just before memorial day with that thing looking down at us.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Oh, Jane, pardon me for laughing, but gosh it must be hard to stay serious with the Giant 8-Ball looking down at you like the Eye of Methuselah.

It's just strange what people do to their water towers--by the way, I think the Collinsville, Illinois, catsup festival is coming up, maybe this weekend!

Julianna Schroeder said...

(Oops, I see the Giant Catsup Bottle Festival was last weekend--oh well!)

Anonymous said...

Have to agree about the dutch letters. When I lived in Jeff City, I would stop there at least once a month on the way to KC and have been dreaming of them since. I went to the lake with the family this week and was so happy that road work on 52 made us swing through Tipton today. For under $20, I got 5 dutch letters, huge bags of roasted salted soy beans, cheese straws, pasta, and gummy butterflies. The dutch letters are just as good as I remember.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Well I guess I'll have to go there and try some Dutch letters, then! (I wonder if you can specify what letters you get?)

Anonymous said...

Side note: They painted over the 8ball once, but everyone missed it so they painted it back again :) I live there, it's a cool town! Aside from giant 8ball check out our library, it's in the home of the town's founder, we have some fun shops downtown, and historic Mc Clay home. We also have a very pretty park with a fishing lake, and we have several geocaching spots - and so on and so on, anyways, thought I'd share :)

ps - nearby versailles area has dozens of similar "dutch" stores

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thanks, Anon! My brother and some friends are into Geocaching, so maybe we can visit Tipton and they can teach me how to do it!

And yeah, Versailles is on my list, especially for their apple festival--I think I had a bad cold or something last year that prevented me from going.

I love the distinctiveness of Central Missouri's towns!

Thanks for chiming in!

Anonymous said...

We've been stopping at the Dutch Bakery since before they expanded from just in their garage. The letters are fabulous. I insisted my girlfriends stop on a weekend trip to the lake. What fun we had trying to spell a word with the letters ... they spelled Jesus!! I suspect they may only make certain letters, not always buyers choice.

Julianna Schroeder said...

I'd like to see them make a lowercase q or a g! Or how about an i? They could use a donut hole for the dot!

But in terms of eating, I'll take a big capital W or M!

Okay, now I'm getting hungry!

caustin1 said...

If you like the 8-ball water-tower, wait till you see the Peach tower in South Carolina. It really looks like a huge butt crack from a distance!

caustin1 said...

Check out this page, the peach tower is near Gaffney, SC

Julianna Schroeder said...

Why, Caustin, that's just . . . remarkable! I know I would not be able to resist snickering if I lived there. "World's Largest Butt"!

Here's another one for you: Have you seen the World's Largest Catsup Bottle, which is in Collinsville, Ill.? They have an annual festival that's all about catsup! (Brooks Catsup used to be made in Collinsville). Here:

While we attended the festival, we also got to meet the "World's Largest Things" woman, who was there with her collection of "The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things," which is basically a traveling road show.

To make sense out of what I just said, look here:

She also has a nice list of all the "World's Largest Things," state by state:

Thanks for commenting! It's good to know that in our troubled world, we still have room for the World's Largest Peach/Butt!

Angela said...

What are the store hours?

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hi, Angela,

I don't know for sure what the hours are, but I do know they are closed on Sundays. They probably open sometime between 8 and 10 am, and I think they generally close by about 5 pm.

At any rate, as a small, independent business, their hours can change whenever the owners want. So if I posted their hours TODAY, a year from now they might be different!

If you are in doubt, give them a call. The number is 573-433-2865.