Oh, the entendres.
Putz’s Creamy Whip can be found on the World Wide Web, but it’s so proudly local that the home page bears no mention of the city in which it does business. I’ve done the research for you: it’s Cincinnati, the Queen City.
And Putz is, as you may have surmised, the name of the couple who opened this snack shop, back in 1938. The place became so popular that the street on which it’s located was renamed Putz Place. At the corner of West Fork Road. In the Cumminsville neighborhood.
Yes, the jokes write themselves.
But I’m not here to mock Putz’s Creamy Whip. (OK, just a little.) For one thing, the first syllable of the name is pronounced like the verb “put.” A “creamy whip” is a synonym for soft-serve ice cream (also known—news to me—as a Whippy-Dip). Finally, it’s hard to be snarky about a restaurant that’s been owned and operated by the same family for four generations and that can tell a story like this:
Coming out of the Depression that financially ruined many Americans, Constantine and Anna Putz decided to take a leap from selling pies and baked goods door to door, to opening a small store selling these items. Within a couple of years, they took an even bigger leap and opened Putz’s, an ice cream business, with their daughter Gertie and her new husband, Ray Ehrhardt. They sold hand-dipped ice cream, three scoops for a nickel, out of two streetcars at 4166 Spring Grove Avenue near Chambers Street. For ten years, their business continued to grow despite floods, one of which totally covered the streetcars, and the down times of World War II. In 1948, however, things took a turn for the worse. Ray’s appendix burst and he became seriously ill. Putz’s would close.
Spoiler alert: there’s a happy ending.
I enjoyed the Putz’s menu, too—and not only because it gave me reverse sticker-shock. (At my own neighborhood’s historic/sentimental ice-cream parlor, Fenton’s Creamery, a cone is about $6 and the medium create-your-own sundae is about $9.) I was charmed by the “Par-Fay” (“includes Whip Cream”), the Ice Man and Ice Lady, and the way “extra” is shortened to “Xtr.” I was completely stumped by the Face Cone.
And I was delighted to discover a true regionalism, “Mett,” on the sandwich menu. No, it isn’t a typo for “melt” or “meat”: a Mett (possibly from Low German mett, “chopped pork without bacon”) is a smoked pork/beef sausage that comes in two varieties: hot and mild. The word, and the sausage, no doubt came to Cincinnati with German immigrants.
Here’s what Gangster of Food says about Metts:
Hot Metts are available, to my knowledge, nowhere else in the world outside of a radius of undetermined length around the Queen City. Queen City Sausage’s Metts seem to be the most popular and those are what we ate this trip. They aren’t ridiculous, growing up we would sometimes get these “five alarm Metts” that would hurt the nethers for days afterward, never eager to learn, we sought them out at every opportunity, whining, “Mom, I want the five alarm Metts! Why can’t we get the five alarm Metts?!”. But these were good, perfectly spiced, plump, moist without being greasy and just enough burn to keep you pounding those ice cold Budweisers. I hear there’s a family butchery left that still keeps some hogs and makes good Metts. Next trip I’ll hit them up, assuming they haven’t been assasinated by Krogers, maybe bring some back to Portland, show them around to the local meatheads, maybe they’ll learn a thing or two.
I’ve been to Cincinnati a couple of times and have been given a culinary tour by a native daughter. I’ve had peach ice cream at Graeter’s and a Cincinnati Five-Way (chillax, it’s chili). But somehow I’d missed out on Putz’s. And I won’t get there this year, either, unless I really hustle. As one Yelp reviewer put it, Putz’s is a summer romance: It’s usually open only between Memorial Day and mid-September. This year it closes on September 19.