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Wyoming’s Most Interesting Google Search During the Pandemic? Hot Wings

in Food
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyomingites have had hot wings on the brain during the pandemic, according to our Google searches.

Career resource website Zippia recently unveiled all 50 states’ most interesting Google searches since the pandemic began, and Wyoming’s search was all about hot wings.

This was tame compared to some other state searches over the last five months, such as Missouri’s “meth recipe, Florida’s “how to sleep at work” and Michigan’s “making cannabutter” (also known as cannabis butter) inquiries.

Of course, “most interesting” is subjective. How did they determine “most interesting?”

Zippia explained they used Google Trends to determine “what each state was googling more than any other state during quarantine.”

That still seems pretty subjective. Regardless, staff members searched hundreds of terms, ranging from outdoor activities to do-it-yourself projects, foods and drinks, self-improvement and more.

The time period ranged from April to August. Five months of quarantining and social distancing has caused us all to start googling weird subjects.

The Western region’s Google searches varied wildly, with Coloradoans focusing on how to stop drinking, Utahans looking up information on a Dr. Pepper shortage and Idahoans trying to figure out how to delete Facebook.

Some other weird searches included Tennessee’s hunt for “Cracker Barrel Alcohol,” South Dakota’s “how to move to Canada” and Nevada’s “going vegan.”

Our favorite might be Florida (home of Florida Man). Their top search: “How To Sleep At Work”.

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Enzi, Barrasso Call For Reform In Meat Processing Industry

in Agriculture/Business/Food/News
5017

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyoming, called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday to look into reforming the meat processing industry.

The two joined a bipartisan group of legislators in sending a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to consider areas for regulatory and programmatic reform in the industry.

“When high-capacity processing facilities experienced (coronavirus) outbreaks amongst employees, operations were forced to shut-off or slow down production, leaving the rancher with livestock they could not move and the consumer with either empty grocery shelves or overpriced products,” the senators wrote. “These pitfalls can be avoided in the future if we take action today to promote a diversified food supply chain. Regulations must be streamlined to remove barriers impeding small and medium-sized meat processors.”

The legislators included Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

In April, Wyoming legislators Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, called for an investigation into meat processors, accusing them of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to make record profits.

They both criticized the four major meat packing companies, Tyson, Smithfield, JBS and Cargill for creating a monopoly that hurts ranches and small cattle producers.

Driskill recommended the public call for an investigation into these companies and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, which regulates interstate and foreign commerce in livestock, dairy, poultry and related products.

Lindholm blamed the companies’ misuse of the Federal Meat Inspection Act as one of the problems behind rising beef prices for consumers, but not ranchers. 

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Tim Mandese: “So NOW You Like Spam?”

in Column/Food/Tim Mandese
3792

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily.

WARNING!! I’m going to use A LOT of exclamation points in this article!!!!

Are you self-isolating? Quarantined? Social distancing? Hunkered in the bunker? If so, then I can understand the toilet paper hoarding. We all need TP. Maybe not 1,200 rolls though! 

But which one of you bought up all the Spam? I only know three people who eat it, including myself. So where did it go? I imagine pantries full of Spam, those cans sitting in the back being saved for a last resort.

If you are going to hoard it, use it! Bring those cans to the front and put that macaroni helper in the back! I’m here to tell you Spam is the new filet mignon! 

Wait, Wait! Come back! I mean it! You’ll see. 

You might ask first, what is Spam? Spam has been around since 1937 and is eaten worldwide. In the U.S., its biggest fans are found in Hawaii, where 7 million cans are consumed annually!! What do they know that we don’t? 

What is Spam? According to the website, it is made up of “pork with ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, sodium nitrite.” So what are you afraid of? As long as I can remember, I’ve always been told that the word “Spam” is short for “spiced ham.”

Modern Spam is much more diverse than the product you remember your grandma cooking. Now it comes in 15 different flavors, like bacon, jalapeno, teriyaki, and my two favorites, garlic and chorizo!

It’s not so hard to believe that the recipe options are endless! The Spam website has a page with 100-plus Spam recipes! Getting excited now?

There are classic like Spam omelets, wild and wacky creations like a “Spam and Ramen burger“, the “Spamalicious Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits,” (  ) and my favorite, “Spicy Spam Rice Bites“.

So if you are self-isolated, going stir crazy, and feeling like Spam in a can (pun intended), get that canned goodness out of the back of the pantry and use it! Because I know it was you who bought it all! 

One more thing. While you are on the Spam website, check out the store page. All kinds of Spam accessories for your Spamming pleasure. 

I want the Spam lunch box! 

Wyoming Baking Disasters (Or Learning a New Skill While Self-Isolating)

in Food
3679

Our friend Wendy Madsen, a Cheyenne resident who hails from Basin, Wyoming, was excited to make a multi-layered cake for her niece’s birthday.

Like most of us, she was self-distancing (or whatever it’s called) and decided to try something new…


Wendy documented her entire baking experience on Facebook and graciously agreed to let us show it here. We have to admit: this looks great!


Wendy started off with a lot of optimism…


Although that optimism seemed to fade, almost immediately.


But anyone who knows Wendy, knows she isn’t a quitter. She keeps on fighting through all adversity. And there was some adversity to come…


Even when her team abandons her, she keeps on going!


Oh no. We have a metric-system issue going on…


Thankfully, for our pal Wendy, she has good friends who wanted to help…


Again, the optimism faded. And this time it got serious. Bring on the booze…


But even booze didn’t seem to fix this…


Now we’re starting to sense desperation….


And now the audience was starting to chime in…



Where was Wendy’s husband, Mark, during all of this? He became useful at this point, actually…


Are you ready for the grand finale (of the evening)? Wendy was ready to put this project to bed…


We were wondering if the ‘cake’ would make it overnight. We were relieved to see it survived and to see it in natural light…


But it wasn’t long until booze came back into the picture…


But, don’t worry everyone, Wendy’s friend came to the rescue…


And look who made another appearance? Wendy’s husband Mark…


Optimism filled the room again….


We’re not certain what this next slide means. But, at this point, we don’t need to understand it…


And thank God, booze was back in the picture. Yikes!


And now more audience involvement!


This thing is truly a yo-yo of emotions…


Holy cow. It’s starting to look ok….


We’re not sure how this is possible. But it looks great!


All we can say is, it’s a divine miracle…

The most important part of all of this are Wendy’s words at the very end.

“I get to stay at home and make a cake, while others are going to work to keep us safe and others have lost their livelihoods during these difficult times.

Mostly, as I have plenty of food in my pantry, I think of those who are not sure where their next meal will come from.

What to do?  I am impressed with the organizations we can all support through First Lady Jennie Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative at:

https://www.nohungerwyo.org.  So, maybe this is a small start. Much love, all!”

Eating Wyoming: Casper’s Little Shop Of Burgers

in Column/Food/Tim Mandese
2805

By Tim Mandese, Eating Wyoming columnist for Cowboy State Daily

It’s creepy, crawly, weird and wacky and offers up some of the best burgers around. A horror-themed restaurant serves up whimsy with a side of fries, and it’s the best kept secret in Casper.

Have you found yourself hungry for a good burger, but you’re surrounded by clowns and kings and endless drive-through lines? Well, if you’re in Casper, head north down Center Street….way down Center Street. Just before K Street, you’ll find a place that’s truly off the beaten path — Little Shop of Burgers

Walking into the Little Shop of Burgers, you’ll find it’s a treat before you even get seated. The walls are covered with vintage horror movie posters and the shelves are decorated with enough creepy items to make the most avid Halloween fan giddy. 

On one wall, there’s a movie poster for “The Mummy,” on another, one for “Dracula.” There’s a suitcase full of heads on a shelf, and playing on the speakers are songs that would fit in at a monster’s ball. On the top of the wall next to your table is a little girl’s doll with clown makeup that would send chills down the Joker’s spine. 

In September of 2018, owner Sarah Weikum opened this one-of-a-kind burger shop. Having worked in the restaurant business in places like San Francisco and New Orleans, as well as Casper, Weikum wanted to bring her love of good burgers and classic horror movies together in one place.

Menu items are all named with a macabre sense of humor. 

Burgers like “Fungus Among Us,” which is Sarah’s take on the classic mushroom Swiss burger. Then there’s the “Drac Attack,” a burger topped with garlic sauce and Havarti cheese.

Sarah recommends her favorite, the “Freddy,” a jalapeno and cheese lover’s dream. 

My go-to burger is “The Fester,” named for Uncle Fester from The Addams Family. It’s a bacon cheeseburger with an amazing barbecue sauce. 

All of the patties are made fresh by hand, seasoned, and each burger is cooked to order. 

Want something other than a burger? Look no further than the selection of chicken sandwiches. But which one? “The Ripper?” Barbecue sauce, bacon, cheddar and green onion on grilled chicken breast. 

Or maybe “Carnival of Chickens?” A crispy chicken sandwich, with your choice of cheese. 

All of the sandwiches at Little Shop of Burgers comes with PLOTS. What’s PLOTS? Pickles, Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes and Sprouts of course. 

What about the sides? All the fries are fresh cut. My personal favorite, the garlic parmesan fries, will scare off the vampire hordes! But you can go for the crispy onion rings, tater tots, sweet potato fries, sweet potato tots (YUM) or chips. If you want a lower carb side dish option, there’s cottage cheese or side salad.

Shakes? Of course. New on the menu is a full lineup of fresh made milkshakes. You can order “The Gloop,” a Chocolate shake named after Augustus Gloop, the naughty chocolate-craving kid from the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s a shake so full of chocolate and chocolate chips, that you need a spoon, because a straw just won’t cut it. 

You have got to try the “Candy Man,” another name taken from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s a scrumptious Butterfinger delight.

As if the amazing burgers, fries, shakes and theme weren’t enough, Little Shop of Burgers has a movie screening room! Yes, you can watch a horror movie and eat your horror-themed burger and drink your horror themed shake, all at no extra charge! The screening room features family friendly movies such as “Goosebumps,” as well as the classic Universal Films monster movies and others. Check with your host to see what’s playing. Being the most popular room in the restaurant, it is often rented for parties and business functions. 

Little Shop of Burgers is located at 1040 N. Center St. and is currently open during its winter hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays. In April, the restaurant will switch to its summer hours of 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Phone: (307) 234-3472 

Follow Little Shop of  Burgers on Facebook to discover the daily specials. If you are an Instagrammer, look for them there as well. 

For a scary good burger, don’t be afraid to get the off the beaten path. If you are alive, dead or one of the undead, you’ll be glad you did.

Eating Wyoming: It’s Restaurant Week in Casper

in Column/Food/Tim Mandese
2780

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

We all know the age-old question that’s vexed couples and families everywhere: “Where do you want to eat?” Which usually gets the dreaded reply: “I don’t know. Wherever you want to.” Normally followed by a grumble and someone ordering a pizza. 

There’s no reason to let this happen this week in Casper.

From now through Sunday, Visit Casper is partnering with dozens of restaurants, breweries, sandwich shops, tasting rooms and others to present “5150′ Restaurant Week.” Participating venues will have special offerings with price points of $3.07, in honor of Wyoming’s area code, $18.90, the year we became a state, and $51.50, Casper’s elevation. 

So the question isn’t where to eat, but how many places you can get to before Jan. 25? Let’s plan out a whole day and see where it leads us. 

Imagine: It’s early morning. You just just woke up and need coffee. Good coffee! Strong coffee! The first stop of the day is Scarlow’s Art and Coffee, located in downtown Casper on Second Street. When you get there, Barista Kate Magee says that Scarlow’s has a special on a single flavor latte for $3.07. But you tell her you want to hit the town and see what other things you can find to eat because you are getting hungry. 

“No problem.” Kate says. “We also have a ceramic Scarlow’s to-go cup for $18.90.” 

Perfect! You grab your hot latte and hit the road heading east on Second Street. 

Suddenly on the right side of the road, you spot the old-fashioned, shiny stainless steel, blast-from-the-past, Johnny J’s Diner. Inside, Joshua DeArmon, general manager, greets you and sees you to a table. You ask “What ya got Josh?” 

He tells you that you can start with their hot homemade cinnamon roll or pie with coffee or some other beverage for $3.07. 

“Yes please! Start me out with that. What else ya got?” 

He replies: “You can get two breakfast combos with french toast, waffle or pancake, and two cups of coffee for $18.90.” 

AWESOME! MORE COFFEE! 

With the coffee kicking in, you finish your breakfast, pay the bill and hit the road. Only you realize you are going 45 mph in a 30 mph zone — and you forgot your car.

Two hours later, you are about out of caffeine fuel and you come to a stop for lunch outside of Grab & Go Gourmet. All that coffee has left you hungry again. Inside you are greeted by Chef Maggie King, who proudly tells you their special is any two hot or cold sandwiches, two chips and two deserts for $18.90. 

After cruising around a while, you realize that — yes you guessed it — you’re hungry again. But this time, for just a little snack. 

Checking your phone, you go to 5150local.com and check out where to get your snack on. You spot Frosted Tops, Custom Cakes and Sweet Treats. Sounds good so you head on over. When you get there, you find out you can get any treat and a cup of coffee or hot cocoa for $3.07. 

WOOHOO! MORE COFFEE! 

You jump in the car and head out once again. After a long internal debate about who makes the best coffee, you see the sun is setting and, yeah, you’re hungry again. Time for dinner! 

Steak and lobster sounds good. It’s a good thing you spot the FireRock Steakhouse’s $51.50 special, steak and lobster with choice of appetizer or dessert. BINGO! 

The night grows late and the plate in front of you is empty, except a lobster shell, steak bone and a small piece of parsley (who eats that, anyway?). You’ve had a wonderful day! 

There’s a lot more out there to nosh on, so get out there and enjoy the 5015 Restaurant Week in Casper before it’s all over! Stop by check out the dozen other places to get filled up. And don’t forget THE COFFEE! 

Eating Wyoming is a semi-regular column on food, dining, coffee and all things related to them written by Cowboy State Daily staffer Tim Mandese.

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