A blast from the past

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Diehards know you don’t go to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in Wisconsin without visiting Ardy and Ed’s Drive In restaurant, a malt (with real malted milk) and burger joint with carhops on roller skates.

Created in 1948, this local culinary institution began as the Southside A&W Drive In, although back then you couldn’t order fat-free French dressing or salads. A salad was that piece of lettuce on your third-of-a-pound Drive-In Double or Pizza Burger.

Keeping the flavor of Wisconsin, the Drive-In Double is made with one bratwurst patty and one hamburger patty topped with two slices of cheese on a Kaiser roll. Back in the day when the first of these was served, you had to pony up in person. Nowadays, you can order online for pickup or delivery. Back then there was also no offer to “Go green” with the restaurant’s refillable half-gallon jug for homemade root beer (made fresh daily). You trashed the bottle and bought another half-gallon. Well, you can still do that.

Surviving against the trend, Ardy and Ed’s went independent 12 years after Edward Timm (Ed) and his wife Ardythe (Ardy) bought the place in 1960. Ed died in 1979, and Ardy ran the restaurant with husband Steve Davis until selling the joint to new owners who remain stubbornly traditional about their local culinary institution—other than posting the menu online in PDF format.

Set your GPS to 2413 South Main Street in Oshkosh and travel back to a time when taste trumped calories.

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.
Topics: U.S. Travel

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