This is why I was so disappointed a few summers ago when I strolled the Wildwood boardwalk, the longest in New Jersey. Wildwood has surrendered some of their local economy to corporate America. You can now buy a Blizzard at the Wildwood boardwalk Dairy Queen or purchase a Big Mac at the boardwalk McDonalds. Needless to say, both of these chain eateries were quite crowded on the day I was in Wildwood. They appeared to be doing a very good business. Ever since that stroll I have been wondering why someone would go on vacation in this seaside community and spend their time standing in line at McDonalds when the boardwalk is filled with places to eat that represent the history and character of the Jersey Shore. To me, this would be the equivalent of vacationing in Italy and eating your meals at the local Burger King. (Does Italy have a Burger King?)
Though Wildwood had succumbed to the corporate world, I still held out hope for Seaside Heights--the town with the boardwalk where I spent most of my vacation time as a kid. Certainly Seaside Heights--the home of 3 Brothers Pizza and Midway Steakhouse and Casino Pier and Lucky Leo's Arcade--would not give into the chains?
Unfortunately, I was wrong. No place is safe from the reach of corporate America. As I took my yearly stroll through Seaside this past weekend, taking in the annual Columbus Day Italian-American festival, this is what I encountered:
Time to make the donuts.