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Wiggins Drive-In Spaghetti & Hot Dog Chili

From: pamela 
Sent: Sunday, August 13, 2017 9:42 PM
Subject: Can you find it? 

Hello Uncle Phaedrus,

My name is Pamela. Although I now live in south Texas I have fond memories from my childhood of two hometown foods. 
If you find these you are indeed the Sherlock Holmes of recipes…. They come from my birthplace in Huntington, West Virginia.

When I was a young girl growing up in Huntington, it was the 1950s. There was a restaurant named “Wiggins” (Wiggins BBQ) 
They made a “to die for” recipe called Wiggins Spaghetti that I dearly adored. Now as a  grown up old lady living halfway 
across the US,  I thought about making the 2000 mile pilgrimage back there to once again rediscover my childhood favorites. 
After searching the web via the internet I discovered this restaurant was long ago closed. So disappointed. The restaurant 
was a unique favorite of the hometown folks there and was famous for its food. Since the restaurant is now gone forever,  
I would love to be able to find and recover the recipe.. can you do it? 

If you find it you may also find their signature recipe for BBQ sandwiches (pork or beef I’m not sure)  that was served on 
a bun with coleslaw.. it was fabulous as was the Spaghetti. 

Hope you still can work your magic,

Regards and thanks in advance for searching..

San Antonio, Texas

Hi Pamela,

I had mixed success with this. It’s quite rare for this sort of recipe to be found on the Internet, particularly for such things as barbecue sauces from a restaurant. Owner's families retain a hope that someday one of them will open another restaurant, so they cling to the recipes.

There is a history of Wiggins Drive-In here: Lost Huntington

Let’s trace that history a bit. I’m a bit of a history buff.

Sometime during World War Two, Ralph Wiggins opened his Drive-In on 5th Ave in Huntington and began selling, among other things, barbecue sandwiches, chili dogs, and spaghetti. In 1957, Dave Freeman convinced Ralph to allow him to open a second Wiggins Drive-In on the corner of 4th Street. The original Wiggins Drive-In closed in the mid-eighties. The 4th Avenue store, operated by Dave Freeman and then his son Rob Freeman, was in operation until 1996. In 1985, Darrell "Bo" Smith and Edward Humphries obtained the Wiggins recipes and began serving them at “Tascali’s” on U.S 60 East in Barboursville. In 1999, Rob Freeman and Edsel Rollyson – owner of Rollyson's Car Washes - also began serving Wiggins’ recipes at "Wiggins Central City" at Madison Avenue and W. 14th St. I’m not sure exactly how long this place was open, but it was closed as of 2016. “Tascali's Decades Pasta and Grill” closed in 2015, and the new owners , “Fratelli's Italian Restaurant”, was not interested in the Wiggins recipes. So, the only people that would have the recipes for sure are Rob Freeman and Darrell “Bo” Smith. There is an article about Mr. Smith and the recipes here: Herald-Dispatch. In it he says "I have a buyer for all the equipment and furnishings, but I'm keeping ownership of the memorabilia and recipes, ...”

I’m afraid there is little hope that either Freeman or Smith would easily let go of the Wiggins recipes. So, the final option is “copycat recipes” or “tastes-like recipes”. “Copycats” are recipes that someone has created with the intention of duplicating a dish. “Tastes-Like” recipes are recipes that less intentional. They are recipes that people think “taste like” a dish for which a recipe is unavailable. Wiggins’ spaghetti sauce was called “29th Street Wiggins Spaghetti Sauce” and there is a copycat for it below and on this site: Key Ingredient.

I also came across a copycat for Wiggins Drive-in Hot dog Chili here: Just a Pinch.

I had no success at all with the barbecue sauce.


29th Street Wiggins Spaghetti Sauce


1/8    cup oil (I use vegetable)
1    medium onion
6    oz can tomato paste
15    oz can tomato sauce
1-1/2    tsp cider vinegar
3/4    cup water
1    lb ground beef
garlic powder (to taste)
1    bay leaf
1-1/2    tsp chili powder
2    tbsp sugar
1    tsp salt
1/4    tsp black pepper


Combine all ingredients in Dutch oven. Stir well and cook on low heat with lid for 90 minutes or until done.

Mennonite Casserole

From: Pat 
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2017 8:45 AM
Subject: lost recipe

Recently we made an Amish spinach/noodle/ meat casserole.  It was great but I lost the recipe card.  
The only thing I remember about the title of the recipe was that it began with the letter ‘K’ and 
was 5 or 6 letters long.  I’m sure it was a German word for the dish.

Hi Pat,

I will see what I can find, but it would be really helpful to know what you mean by “the recipe card.” What sort of recipe card? That might be the best way to find this. I might even have a set of them.


From: Pat 
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2017 10:11 AM
To: Phaedrus 
Subject: Re: lost recipe

My bad.  Actually it was a Mennonite recipe from VA Beach, VA. and I picked it up at their commercial 
business dairy store.  Hope this helps!

Hi Pat,

What kind of meat? Beef, pork, chicken, what?

What was the name of the dairy? Was it one of these?
Oberweis Dairy
Yoder Dairy
Heritage Creamery
Gilley's Creamery
Bergey's Dairy


From: Pat 
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2017 11:12 AM
To: Phaedrus 
Subject: Re: lost recipe

Either Yoder or Bergey.  Both were very popular names in the region of So. VA.  But Bergey sounds right.  
Have not lived in Virginia since '97 It was ground beef.

Hello Pat,

Neither Bergey or Yoder’s has a store in Virginia Beach these days. Bergey’s still operates in Chesapeake, but Yoder’s closed down completely. Bergey’s has a website at: Bergey's Bread Basket. I could not find any recipes connected with either place. I e-mailed Bergey’s Bread Basket and asked them about the recipe. If I hear from them, I’ll let you know.

The German, Amish, Mennonite and Pennsylvania Dutch word for noodles is “nudeln”, sometimes spelled “knudeln” or “knuddeln”, but I could not find a recipe like you describe with any of those names.

There are a lot of Amish/Mennonite recipes with noodles and ground beef, but the spinach is a deal killer. See below for a few. One is called “Mary Yoder's Dairy Casserole”.

See also: Amish Ground beef and noodle casserole.

On the other hand, there are a few Amish recipes for spinach and noodles, but then the hamburger/ground beef becomes the deal killer. The recipes seem to have one or the other, but not both.

I did find a few recipes with noodles, spinach, and ground beef/hamburger, but none that gave any Amish/German/Mennonite connection and none that began with “K”.

See the last recipe below for an example.


Mary Yoder's Dairy Casserole

Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  1 hour
Total time:  1 hour 15 mins
Serves: serves 8

8 ounces of cooked noodles
2 pounds hamburger, browned
2 cups corn,thawed
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup milk
salt and pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup

Combine all ingredients and bake for 1 hour at 350 or until good and hot.
Amish Country Casserole

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 (16-ounce) package wide egg noodles
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and saute onion 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground beef and 
   cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned. 
3. In a large soup pot, cook noodles according to package directions; drain well and return noodles 
   to pot. Add ground beef mixture and 
   remaining ingredients, except paprika; mix well. Place in prepared casserole dish and sprinkle 
   with paprika.  
4. Cover and bake until heated through, about 25-30 minutes.


Freezer instructions: You can freeze this recipe before or after baking. If before, let thaw 24 hours 
in advance and bake at regular temperature and time. If after, let thaw and reheat. 
Spinach/Hamburger Casserole     

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen, chopped spinach
3 c. (4 oz.) med. egg noodles
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 sm. can mushrooms (use more if you like)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt, garlic salt and pepper
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (soften)
1/2 c. sour cream
3 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz.) (use more if you like)
Cook spinach according to package, drain well.
Cook noodles 10 minutes, drain well.

In skillet, brown beef, drain off fat. Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, salts, pepper and noodles.

Stir together cream cheese, sour cream, milk and onion.

In 2 quart casserole, layer half ground beef-noodle mixture, half cheese mixture, all spinach, 
then remaining beef-noodle mixture.

Bake (covered) at 350 degrees until bubbly, about 40 minutes. Uncover, spread with remaining cheese mixture. 
Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. bake uncovered until cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Serves 6.

Penn Station East Coast Subs Chocolate Chunk Cookies

From: Jamie 
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2017 1:57 PM
Subject: Recipe Request

I'm dying to find a Copycat of Chocolate Chunk Cookie from Penn Station East Coast Subs.  
They're sold individually at the checkout, wrapped in Saran wrap. 

Here is their website: Penn-Station

Here is what I know about the recipe...

- They purchase the dough frozen from a supplier.  I haven't been able to figure out the supplier.
- They are baked fresh in each restaurant in an 8"x8" baking pan, and then cut into 4 squares.

- Definitely not semi-sweet chocolate.  It's milk chocolate or maybe even Belgian
- Dense and flaky. Not chewy.
- Not buttery.  If there is any butter in them at all, it's very little.

Hello Jamie,

There is almost nothing about these cookies on the web other than people raving about them and looking for a recipe.

If the dough is made by an outside supplier who makes the dough in bulk, then that makes it much more difficult for anyone to make a copycat recipe.

I did find a recipe suggested as a "tastes-like" for the cookies here: Copykat Chat This recipe does have 1/2 cup of butter, but you should always try a copycat or “tastes-like” recipe before rejecting it. Copycat recipes and “taste-like” recipes are based on re-creating the taste – not necessarily using exactly the same ingredients as the original. If it’s close, but too buttery, try it using another fat or a combination of fats as a substitute for the 1/2 cup of butter. This recipe has Belgian milk chocolate and Belgian dark chocolate. If you so choose, you can use all Belgian milk chocolate.


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