Jun 30, 2013

Visiting Le Roy, New York - home of the Jell-O Museum

I love small one-topic museums like the Jell-O Museum.  The story of Jell-O points out the importance of marketing. A gelatin product was developed by Peter Cooper in 1845 but it wasn’t a success until, in 1897, Pearle Wait added flavor calling it Jell-O. Wait then sold his formula to Frank Woodward for $450.  In 1899 Woodward sent well-trained salesmen, in "spanking rigs, drawn by beautiful horses” with his product to fairs, country gatherings, and church socials.  He promoted the new product as a way to make dessert preparation easier for the housewife. As the saying goes, the rest is history - it became "America's Most Famous Dessert." A new exhibit reflects the influence of Bill Cosby as the Jell-O spokesperson.

In the lower level of the building that houses the Jell-O Museum is a Transportation Museum depicting the evolution of transportation during the 20th century.  And, in front of the building is the historic Le Roy House. Built in 1822 for a land agent, the house has a working hearth fireplace in the basement and three floors that afford a view of life during the 1800s.  One of the owners of the house was the chancellor of Ingham University which was the first female university in the United States to grant women a four-year degree.  The university closed in 1892.  

While chatting with Lynne Belluscio, the curator, I mentioned that
Le Roy was a lovely town.  She said, “Yes, we have a lot to offer. And, you don’t have to go all the way to New York City to see the Statue of Liberty.  We have one of our own.” She motioned toward the pretty pond and, yes, there was the six-foot statue.  I thought there were only two – the one in NY harbor and the one in France. I was surprised to learn from a Web search that there are hundreds of similar statues all over the world. 

While we were in Le Roy we picked up two driving brochures and set out.  One guide took us on the 17-mile tour that explores Le Roy’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and the other on a Quilt Trail.  The Quilt Trail is a great idea.  There are a slew of barns and garages that have painted quilt designs on them – some traditional, some whimsical. It is a great way to get visitors to do a drive-about.

I like drive-abouts.  The countryside is beautiful – especially in the
Northeast.  We stopped at an alpaca farm, there are several in the area.  There is elegance to the stance of alpacas. People are now raising alpacas for their wool-like fiber that can be fashioned into sweaters, blankets and other spun items. Alpaca fiber is soft, durable, and silky. It is similar to wool but warmer, not itchy and lanolin-free making it hypoallergenic.  We also stopped for a little wine tasting and cheese at Kutter’s Cheese Factory and Store in Corfu. The family owned cheese factory was started in 1923 and is now owned and operated by the third generation. 

Our last stop for the day was Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant and Bar which came highly recommended. It is located in a quiet rural area with a view of the waterfalls and great food. The area was once part of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.  If we lived closer this would be one of my favorite restaurants.