Miami Pin-Up Era Eats: Sweeties Wholesale Candy, Dogma Grill, and More

Sweet Treats

Lauren Arkin, owner of L.A. Boudoir, says the emergence of the pin-up subculture comes from people's desire to shake off somber times with colorful, playful fashions and food. Pinups were often depicted bright-eyed and bubbly in an effort to give hope and energy to war-time soldiers and were usually shown indulging in sweet treats such as whirly pops and ice-cream cones.

Back in the day, those items were considered rare and special, to be enjoyed after a trip to the beach. Next time you're heading back from la playa, scoop up a classic pin-up treat from Sweeties Wholesale Candy. Don't let the "wholesale" fool you, though. A variety of old-fashioned candies are sold individually, like the classic whirly pop ($1,69) with enough sugar to jolt you out of your beach-induced malaise. And in case you're trying to kick that nasty cig habit, they have packs of candy cigarettes for $1 apiece. The shop has been around for a little more than a year and looks like Wonka's workshop with its candy-filled apothecary jars scattered about and boxes of candy as far as the eye can see. As the name implies, you can also buy in bulk. For $130, you can get 50 pounds of candy and rent five old-fashioned apothecary jars to display at that burlesque party you're planning.

Ice cream, another classic pin-up treat, is a no-brainer in this weather. Put a Miami twist on the treat and check out Azucar in Little Havana for a classic ice-cream parlor with only-in-Miami flavors such as Willy Cherrino (double cherry), Besitos (vanilla and pink meringue), and Noche Buena (spiced sugar plum), as well as the classic flavors. The shop uses all-natural ingredients to make smooth-as-butter helado daily that would make any pin-up smile.

Home Grown

Before organic was cool, housewives who inspired pin-up drawings were growing their own produce at home. If you wanted something to eat, you stepped outside to get it. Dinners were made from scratch, and precooked meals in the home wouldn't be around for another few years, meaning less salt and fewer preservatives.

Women who lacked a green thumb found solace at the local market, where farmers would deliver surplus crops. Today you can find local, affordable organic produce at Laurenzo's Farmers Market, where time seems to have stood still. Wooden barrels of produce line the shop, and live plants are ripe for the picking. By stripping down the glitz and getting back to basics, Laurenzo's offers organic veggies minus the high prices of most organic markets. For less than $10, you can pick up all the veggies needed to cook a fresh homemade dinner for your honey, served apron and all.

Old-Time Fast Food

Fast-food joints began popping up across the country around the late 1940s for gals who wanted to show off their hubby's cars and take their family out for a special meal, but these places were a far cry from the drive-thru joints of today. Back then, pinups dined on hot dogs and fries made from natural ingredients and weren't mass-produced like the fare at today's chains. Foods that required utensils were eventually stricken from the menu, waitresses were removed from the equation, and food prep was divided into a production line known as the "Speedee System." Classic fast-food joints are few and far between in Miami, but there are still a few gems around that stay true to the original model, such as Dogma Grill on Biscayne Boulevard in MiMo.

The staff and retro signage are reminiscent of the fast-food joints of the past, and the fresh ingredients and reasonable prices give this hot-dog stand an authentic pin-up feel. No longer just slinging hot dogs, co-owner Frank Crupi is doing what he does best at Dogma: making a killer sandwich, "just like you had when you were in eighth grade," served with a classic refreshing beverage -- grape sodas ($2.95) for the kids and a Pabst ($4) for Dad. No matter what city you call home, there is something on the menu from your past, everything from a Chicago dog ($4.50) to po'boys ($9.95) to Frankie's famous Philly cheesesteak ($8.25). The food is made to order and offers the modern-day pinup a place to take her family, slow down, and listen to some oldies without feeling too guilty about the food she's giving the little ones. This is exactly what Crupi set out to do with Dogma Grill, and it puts a smile on his face every time a kid tries Cracker Jack for the first time. "Things are rocky in the world," Crupi says. "People just want to turn to what they know -- nostalgia -- and we're here feeding them their memories."

Like the pinups of the past, ladies today are donning some color, having a little fun, and not taking themselves too seriously. Sure, there's some trouble with the economy, and some critics might say the trend's upbeat attitude sugarcoats the times, but really, who wants to eat ho-hum every day? We say let them eat whirly pops!

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