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The Suburbanite
  • Taggarts has amazing reputation that cools from the inside out

  • Taggarts is on a roll. Ernie and Patti Schott, owners since 1998, love the hot weather. “Lots more customers,” he says. There’s more to it than heat-suffering folks seeking a sundae reprieve (they’ve deserved it). Two customers spent a whole day here.

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  • Taggarts is on a roll.
    Ernie and Patti Schott, owners since 1998, love the hot weather. “Lots more customers,” he says.
    There’s more to it than heat-suffering folks seeking a sundae reprieve (they’ve deserved it). Two customers spent a whole day here.
    “They tried everything. Then they came back that evening for a Bittner,” he said.
    The Bittner, invented in 1931, was either named for a delivery boy or a baseball team that visited after games. Or both. It’s described as a milkshake without the milk, too thick to drink, but not a sundae, either.
    Back to the mysterious customers. Ernie Schott finally discovered their identity. They were Jane and Michael Stern, best-selling authors of the “Road Food” series of travel and food books. Their latest, “Next Stop, Great Eats!” is just out and contains suggestions for six trips. Taggarts is on the Ohio one.
    VISITORS WELCOME
    “I don’t know how they found us,” Schott said. But he wasn’t surprised. Taggarts’ “homemade everything” ice cream has been a magnet for 86 years, selling well even in the depths of winter.
    This explains another strange occurrence there.
    The little restaurant now is attracting regular bus trips from Pittsburgh, but not the usual tourist kind.
    “They’re all diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fans. They come here to visit their heroes in the Hall of Fame,” he said.
    They all eat the same thing, Taggarts’ sundae. “They even pay in advance,” Schott said.
    He once tracked them down and came to Marge Blanda of the American Automobile Association. She’s Hall of Famer George Blanda’s sister-in-law and books the tours.
    Despite all this, nothing ever changes at Taggarts. The Bittner’s 3⁄4-horsepower industrial mixer still works daily. The ice cream recipe never changes, made each morning. The food, a classic selection of 1930s to ’40s favorites, still seems an excuse for the grand finale, the Bittner signature that defies definition.
    WORTH THE TRIP
    The restaurant offers a full menu of homemade soups, salads and sandwiches, a children’s menu and vegetarian options.
    The soda fountain includes all the ice-cream favorites plus old-time flavored Cokes and phosphates. Everything is available for eat-in or takeout.
    All this is wrapped in wrought-iron “ice cream parlor” chairs and wooden booths that baby boomers remember so well. There’s no jukebox but something better, a player piano.
    Taggarts’ reputation is cemented by media coverage. It’s a “One Tank Trip” by Neil Zurcher, a favorite in Cleveland media and subject of a “Splendid Table” segment on Public Radio, which concluded, “Here might be the best hot fudge anywhere. It is the consistency of chocolate syrup, not too thick, nor is it intensely sweet.” They’ve won nearly all of the many local favorite-restaurant awards.
    Page 2 of 2 - The question remains, are all those Steeler-fan busloads coming for the sport or the dessert? Discovering Canton’s other sport — ice cream — can be equally worth the trip.
    On Parade
    Check the Parade supplement with your Sunday Repository for a story on Jane and Michael Stern’s new book, “Next Stop, Great Eats!” including a mention of Taggarts Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant. Other stops on their trip are Babushka’s Kitchen in Northfield Center, West Point Market in Akron, Belgrade Kitchen and Al’s Corner Restaurant in Barberton and Coleman’s Fish Market in Wheeling.
    Taggarts is at 1401 Fulton Road NW and at 107 S. Main St. in Magnolia.
    The Bittner
    The Schotts are constantly bombarded for its secret. The owners of Taggarts would be crazy to let it out, but one suspects the Bittner is actually a blended sundae, ice cream emulsified in the big mixer.
    If you think you can duplicate it, forget it.
    “Everything in it is homemade except for the pecans, and they come from a special source and always must be halves, not pieces,” said Ernie Schott. That includes the vanilla ice cream, the available-no-place-else chocolate sauce and the whipped cream on top.
    The Big Bittner at $4.05 contains 3/4ths of a pound of ice cream. His little brother, the mini, is $3.60.