I stop by the Irish Shop every year around this time. Like a startling number of Americans (I’ve heard estimates of over 70%), I claim some Irish ancestry, but it’s usually only around St. Patrick’s Day that I feel the urge to indulge my Irish side.
A good place to nurture whatever Irish blood you may feel you have is at The Irish Shop.
Although I always look longingly at the Irish hats and bulky sweaters, I head straight for the back of the shop, where they keep the food.
The frozen food case holds Irish sausage, including the traditional bangers as well as white and black sausage (made with beef blood), soda bread and pasties (meat pies).
Though I have had the sausage and like it just fine, I usually have eyes for only the Irish candy.
As an American kid, I was always intrigued by British candies (Cadbury, Callard & Bowser, etc.), which seemed exotic and extra fancy. The Irish Shop has a number of candy bars with exotic names like Flake and Twirl as well as bags of Wine Gums (basically gummies, though perhaps not so sweet as many American versions) and condiments, like mustard and preserves.
I came home with some Flake and Twirl bars (of course!), and they were not really a bargain (about $3.50 for both), but as a once-a-year-treat for a once-a-year-Irishman, I’m fine with that.
When the Irish Shop first moved in, I wondered how a place like this could make it in Oak Park, but with all of us Irishmen walking around, maybe it’s not too surprising that the Irish Shop seems to be thriving, and not just for St. Patrick’s Day.
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