On a drizzling Sunday morning as we headed to Grand Teton National Park, we had some time to kill before checking into our hotel. A sign on the side of the road said ‘World Famous Huckleberry Shakes’ and that seemed like a good enough reason to stop.
Victor is a small town in north-east Idaho at the gateway to Grand Teton NP. It’s where the real people who work in the much grander resort town of Jackson Hole live. Whilst Jackson Hole has the flashy restaurants and art galleries, Victor has a couple of shops, an old theatre, a library and a highway running right through the middle of it all. There is also Victor Emporium. Located in the centre of town, the Emporium serves as a general merchandise store and soda fountain.
Walking through the door, we were greeted with a cheery hello and left to browse through the amazing array of fishing lures, souvenirs and other goods and chattels that the Emporium stocks to service the needs of the local community. Who wouldn’t love a fly called ‘Film Critic Drake Green’?
As we browsed, people dropped in to pick up items, swap information and shoot the breeze. On an otherwise very quiet Sunday morning, Victor Emporium was a hive of activity and clearly a meeting place for the town.
Those Famous Huckleberry Shakes
Towards the back of the Emporium was a good old fashioned soda fountain and that’s where we located the World Famous Huckleberry Shake. I didn’t know these type of places still existed but we saw plenty of them in small towns all over the US. The bright young server at the counter was shocked when we said we’d never had a huckleberry shake, let alone seen a huckleberry.
We decided to share a shake, which she made on one of the old mixers and split between two cups. Huckleberries are not grown commercially and are still picked each summer by locals armed with gloves, berry pails and bear spray. The small, purple huckleberries had been picked earlier in the season and frozen for use in shakes and pies. They were slightly tart and only partially broke apart when mixed in. The resulting purple shake was sweet from the ice-cream (always scoop, never soft serve! we were told) and tangy from the berries.
Whilst we were enjoying our shake, we got to talking about life, travel and huckleberries. What a delight she was. Friendly, wide-eyed and full of dreams to go to college, travel and experience the world. I confess that I have forgotten her name but what a credit to her parents and Victor Emporium. Thank goodness there are at least some Millennials who are interested in more than selfies.
Our shakes finished, it was time to say farewell and head off to Grand Teton NP, which remained fogged in for our entire stay. A shop in Jackson Hole was also serving ‘World Famous Huckleberry Shakes’ but it was of course, ‘Closed for the Winter‘, so I was glad we had taken time out of our very lazy schedule to stop in Victor and visit with the locals.
There’s not a lot you won’t find in Victor Emporium and not many people you won’t meet if you stay long enough. I’m doing my bit to make sure those huckleberry shakes stay world famous.