I started typing the title for this blog post and it came out as “Topical Moose,” which sounds like a really disgusting skin cream or a weird study section.
ANYWAY. Tropical Moose is neither of those things. It’s a tiny trailer in Kirkwood, Missouri, a cute little town close to St. Louis, that serves snow cones during the spring and summer months. I’ve been going since I was little.
Tropical Moose is the kind of place that you could easily miss if you’re a first time visitor to St. Louis or you just moved here and you don’t know a lot of people in town. It’s a St. Louis institution celebrated by locals and it’s survived, I think, through reputation and word of mouth. It’s tucked away in a corner of the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market, one of my favorite places to go when it gets warm.
Whenever I came home during the summer when I lived in other cities, I’d always go to Tro Mo with my sisters and brother. Last summer after I moved back to St. Louis, I stopped by Kirkwood on the way back from a hiking trip to get a snow cone. Tro Mo is a cash only joint and I realized when I got to the window that I didn’t have any cash, so I walked a mile down the street in 100 degree heat to get money from Walgreens. That’s how good it is.
Why would you expend that much energy on a snow cone? you may be wondering. It’s difficult to answer that question. I think it’s a blend of nostalgia, deliciousness, and magic. When I go to Tro Mo, I’m temporarily transported to simpler times when my most pressing decision was which flavors to get on my cone. I ask for a sprinkle of nerds on top, because that makes the snow cone. They crunch and explode in my mouth as the ice and sweet syrup melts on my tongue.
Saturday, my sister was visiting from Boston and we decided to stop by the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market. Naturally this also involved a trip to Tro Mo. We all got snow cones and sat on a bench and people watched. I got red raspberry and peach with a sprinkle of nerds.
Sitting with my mom and sisters on a park bench, I remembered the times I came to get cones when I was little. I watched children get excited as Tro Mo employees passed a sparkling, colorful cone through the window. A baby clung to an extra large snow cone as his mother balanced him and the cone in her arms. He stared at it like it was a precious treasure, which honestly, it is.
It may be a slight exaggeration to call Tro Mo one of the best food destinations in St. Louis, but I don’t think it is. Sometimes I get caught up in the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene and I forgot about the places that are consistently good. In food, as in life, it’s all about the simple pleasures. I’m reminded of this every time I get a cone at Tro Mo.