Friday, December 10, 2010

Dream Picnic - The Bounty of Wisconsin

I took my first trip to Wisconsin this year. A business trip. But luckily we make a lot of fun on our trips. Including hitting the local dining scene, high and low, and checking out great places to drink beer. Including, Koz’s Mini Bowl, a remarkable bar where you can bowl on a twenty foot lane while children set the pins at midnight. It’s like partying in your weird Aunt’s basement.

But Wisconsin really struck me with how beautiful it was. And with how seriously they take their cured meats and hearty cheeses. Like this is a surprise coming from a place where the baseball team is named after beer makers?

It is well known that Wisconsinites like to drink beer. And oddly enough, Brandy Old Fashioneds. But what is not all that well known is that Kenosha, Wisconsin was the home of an automotive brand for the first half and then some of the past century. There, the Nash automobiles were cranked out in impressive enough quantities.

Nash was not that trail blazing until 1949-1954 when they introduced the Airfltye series of cars. Commonly known as the bathtub cars, as they look like an inverted bathtub.

More of interest to me as an ad man is that Nash knew they could not be everything to everyone. So they carved out a rather unique niche. Or market positioning we would say today. And that was the idea that Nash was the ‘Travelingest Car’. And this wasn’t just copy. The product backed it up. Good gas mileage. Innovative heating and cooling systems that benefited from technology developed by the owners other business, the Kelvinator Corporation. Add in fold-flat seats that transformed into beds and optional screens for the windows and you had an art deco tent on wheels. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Pontiac Aztec.

So, the car would be a 1952 Nash Airflyte four-door sedan. The food would all be local Wisconsin food. No need to go outside the state borders. For drink, I would have to include the Champagne of beers, Miller High Life. It’s sensuous clear glass bottle and girl in the moon logo perfect beer iconography. And its taste delivers too for a regular beer, good malt and low carbonation. Of course, man cannot live on a beer alone so I would have to gather a cache of the wondrous Bloody Marys that they mix up at Sobelman’s. The spicy mix I could get filled in a thermos, but that is just half the charm of a Sobelman Bloody. You need the fixings. And fixings they are. So many that they come on a skewer on a separate plate. It’s like an entire cruise ship buffet has been pierced on a wooden rod and been expected to fit onto a salad plate. Generosity is a hallmark of the Badger state.


For food. It is cheese and meat. Meat and cheese. A picnic is no place for the other Wisconsin delight, the fish fry. Pick up a loaf or two of rye from Peter Sciortino. Then go to any number of small butchers to stock up on summer sausage, Trega cheddar, Hidden Springs Creamery Honey Lavendar sheep’s milk cheese.  Skip the Usinger’s. The award-winning cured products from Nolechek’s or Wenzel Farms are also worth provisioning.

And where to drive? To the coast. Preferably to the north. The farther you can go the better.  Enjoy the lazy steering of the Nash. Hold your hand out the window and move it up and down feeling the thick, humid air. Pull off somewhere unmarked and tuck in. And relax, knowing if you need to take a nap to sleep off the Miller and Bloody’s the Nash is up to task of providing a comfy bed.

Images from and

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