We all have childhood totems. You know, those places and things that symbolize special or particular experiences as kids. There are many nationally known childhood totems which originated in Virginia.
Foods & Beverages
The beloved Mr. Peanut was born in Suffolk in 1916. Today, he can be seen at many a parade, store opening and county fair. Go by and see the life-size statue and the 14 cast-iron statues of this famous nut that line the fence of the Planter's processing facility. There, you can also purchase Mr. Peanut collectibles.
Did you know that Eskimo Pie was the nation's first chocolate-covered ice cream bar? It was invented in 1920 by Christian Nelson, an Iowan. He didn't like having to decide whether to purchase candy or ice cream with his allowance. This either/or dilemma resulted in his delicious invention. He sold his Eskimo Pie Corp. in 1922 to Reynolds' Metals Co. in Virginia, who invented the ice cream bar's foil wrapper and marketed it to the world!
In 1992, Eskimo Pie became independent of Reynolds' Metals. Today, Eskimo Pie's headquarters is still in Richmond. Other great Childhood Totems marketed by Eskimo Pie today include Welch's and OREO brand names.
Girl Scout Cookies
ABC Bakers, a division of Interbake Foods, is the oldest and most experienced licensed Girl Scout Cookie baker, baking up a storm since 1939. Located in Richmond, they provide about half of the country's supply of Girl Scout Cookies, which are among the top 15 most popular selling cookies in the United States.
Believe it or not, Dr. Pepper is the oldest soft drink in America. Another fact is that the inventor, Wade Morrison, named it after Dr. Charles Pepper, a Virginia doctor who gave Morrison his first job in Rural Retreat. Did your mom ever boil Dr. Pepper and serve it to you instead of hot chocolate? Try that sometime.
Northern Neck Ginger Ale
Did you know that ginger ale was the number one soft drink in America for more than 70 years? The Carver family of Montross started bottling their own pale dry ginger ale in 1926 and named it Carver's Original. Montross is also the home to The Northern Neck Coca-Cola Bottling Co., which has been bottling that popular Childhood Totem since the 1920s.
Route 11 Potato Chips
These famous chips have only been around for about 15 years, so they don't officially qualify as a childhood totem unless you're a young adult. Every chip is hand-cooked, so the story goes, in their Route 11 Potato Chip Factory in Mount Jackson. Visitors can watch the spudmasters Monday through Saturday, and maybe get some free samples!
Misty of Chincoteague
Who doesn't remember Marguerite Henry's beloved book, Misty of Chincoteague, a story about a wild pony who lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia? This book captivated generations of boys and girls, and many of them have made the trek to the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim & Auction every July with their own children.
McGuffey Eclectic Readers
William McGuffey (1800-1873) was born in Pennsylvania, but he taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from 1845 until his death. His series of readers were used in 37 states and formed the minds of 19th-century Americans. By the 1930s, the Dick and Jane books, published by Scott Foresman & Co., became the more popular readers.
Did you know that Earl Hamner Jr., creator of "The Waltons" television series, was born in Schuyler? His family lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the Great Depression, and he, the oldest of eight children, was actually "John Boy" in the series. He went to the University of Richmond, which he named "Boatwright College" in the series, after the name of UR's first president, Dr. Frederick Boatwright.
You can visit the Waltons Museum in Schuyler and see how much your old Waltons lunch box is worth today. Also, see replicas of the old rooms, such as John Boy's bedroom. Ike Godsey's Store is next door and full of souvenirs and country stuff that the Waltons just might have used.
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe lived in Richmond until he was 17. His formative years must have influenced his frightening tales ... tales that influenced plenty of childhood nightmares. Although he was born in Boston, little Edgar was only two years old when his mother died and he was taken in by a foster parent, John Allan. At age 17, he entered the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and lived in Room 13, West Range. Visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, just a few houses from where he lived as a child.
Author Tom Wolfe
Author Tom Wolfe was born in Richmond in 1931. He was already more than 30 years old and a "New Journalism" reporter for the New York Herald Tribune when he wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. If you've never read it, it's about the beginning of the hippie era, published in 1968. He seemed to know who the influential people of an entire generation were before they even knew it themselves. He attended St. Christopher's School in Richmond and Washington & Lee University in Lexington.
Creator of "Doug"
Jim Jenkins, the creator of the cartoon "Doug" was born in Richmond. His animation company, Jumbo Pictures, produced "Doug" Funnie and his friends - Skeeter Valentine and Patti Mayonnaise - for the Nickelodeon cable network in 1990-1996.
Disney bought Jumbo Pictures in 1996, and "Doug" re-runs can still be seen. Jinkins also created "PB&J Otter," another great cartoon for Disney.
National Scout Jamboree
Every year since 1981, the National Scout Jamboree has been held at Fort A. P. Hill in Virginia. If you were ever a scout, you already know that the first Jamboree was held in 1937 at the base of the Washington Monument on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Did you ever think that someday astronauts would really go into outer space like Flash Gordon and Dale Arden? The National Air and Space Administration's mission is to: (1) understand and protect our home planet (2) explore the universe and search for life (3) inspire the next generation of explorers! NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton forges new frontiers in aeronautics and was home to the first Mercury 7 astronauts more than 50 years ago!
Last Updated: 12/15/2016