There are many delicious roadside restaurants along Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, but perhaps the most world famous one is the Snow Cap in Seligman, Arizona.
What makes this predecessor to the modern Dairy-Queen so memorable?
Everywhere you turn, Juan Delgadillo's wacky sense of humor makes you laugh.
Juan Delgadillo, one of 9 children from Mexican immigrant parents, grew up just a few feet away from the Snow Cap in this small house that faces Route 66. The Santa Fe Railroad is in the backyard. His father built the Old Pool Hall building on Route 66 that was a hangout for the local Hispanic sheepherders and railroad workers.
Seligman's entire economy was based on the travel through this town: either from the Route 66 vacationers, the Oakies who passed through here during the Great Depression, or from the railroad workers who provided important support to the Santa Fe railroad.
Juan Delgadillo built the Snow Cap Drive-In using scrap lumber from the Railway in 1953. He worked behind the counter, serving customers from all around the world, for over 50 years, until the evening of his sudden death on June 2, 2004.
A collector of quirky memorabilia, soon the Snow Cap became as much of a museum to the American love affair with the open road as a place to cool down with a delicious malt or a Cheeseburger with Cheese.
I don't know any other restaurant in America that proudly serves "Dead Chicken". But, not many other restaurants play tricks on their customers like Juan Delgadillo and now his sons, John-Michael and Robert, do. The fun pranks are called "The Treatment" and it was Juan Delgadillo's intention to make each and every customer laugh and fully enjoy a meal at the Snow Cap.
From the minute you try to enter the Snow Cap, you have a feeling that you will be in for a unique experience. Check out the door: there are two door knobs and of course, everyone tries to open the wrong one.
While we were enjoying our banana split, one of the Delgadillo son's offered us mustard and proceeded to squirt the bottle at my son. It was full of yellow silly string. It's fun touches like these that make people from Europe and Asia travel all the way to the middle of Arizona for a simple meal.
This picture shows the Snow Cap in its Route 66 heyday before Interstate 40 bypassed the town on September 22, 1978. Going to Seligman is like stepping back in time to a fun era where the car is king and the drive-in is the place to be seen.
The quirky displays that litter the property make this a place that you can spend an hour or more exploring and reminiscing about the way things were.
When traveling on Arizona's Route 66, do not miss the town that inspired the Rebirth of the Mother Road. Be sure to stop in the Snow Cap and get some special treatment from Juan Delgadillo's offspring.