Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wishbones and Me

Who has heard of Wishbone?

Not the one on the chicken or turkey
But the famous Kansas City restaurant

In an old house

And it has a great story:

After serving in the military during World War II, Phillip Sollomi returned home to Kansas City in 1945 and opened a family-style chicken and prime rib restaurant called The Wish-Bone at 45th and Main streets. It soon became a favorite of locals.
Located at 4455 Main Street
It was close to The Country Club Plaza

But it wasn't the chicken or prime rib that made the restaurant famous

It was the salad dressing!

In 1948, Sollomi asked his mother Lena for a spicy salad dressing recipe she brought from Sicily, a family favorite he thought the restaurant patrons would like. The dressing was an immediate hit, and customers were asking for bottles to take home. 

Demand was so high that Sollomi eventually began mixing the dressing in 50-gallon wooden barrels, bottling it and labeling it "The Kansas City Wish-Bone Famous Italian-Style Dressing."

The popularity of the dressing spread throughout the Midwest. It was getting too big for Sollomi to handle, so he sold the business to TJ Lipton in 1958.
A plant was built in Independence in 1961 to produce Wish-Bone salad dressing. By 1970, it became the number one Italian salad dressing in the United States, a position it hasn't relinquished since.

I would assume that this is an early ad of the Lipton Company

And for a long time, it was the only salad dressing that Wishbone made,
the Italian one!

Now, however, there are many different varieties of Wishbone dressing
It comes in many flavors!

I will still, occasionally, buy the Italian one
A taste of youth -- Wishbone on your salad!

Alas, the restaurant is long gone

In it's place is this
The "Plaza" Marriott
(They serve food too -- like the Wishbone restaurant)

But one thing is constant:

There still is a Wishbone Italian dressing
Still using the same recipe of Phillip Solum's mother

Today it generates $190 million in annual sales and is produced at a plant that employs 190 people working three shifts.

I am a purist, however, and the only Wishbone that I buy is the Italian one.


Francie Newcomb said...

Martha, what a fascinating post-- I had no idea Wish-Bone dressing was a Kansas City product! And had never heard of the old Wish-Bone restaurant. This is a revelation. In 1960's Kansas City there was a (we thought) delicious recipe of marinating chicken pieces in Wish-Bone and then grilling the chicken over charcoal. You could also bake the chicken in the marinade and then finish it over the grill. It was the best, in the opinion of certain hungry teenagers.

Pondside said...

That was very interesting, Martha. While I don't think I've ever bought this dressing, I've heard of it. What a legacy of taste....and jobs!

ellen b said...

I've got some in my fridge right now. Fascinating story behind this dressing we've used for years. Thanks for sharing your research!

Rosemary said...

Well now, isn't it fun to know the history of Wishbone dressing! I always use the Italian dressing!