deno’s easter eggs

For decades, *the* place to be in my hometown sat at the corner of Third and Oak Streets. We’re talking wooden booths carved with names from my dad’s crew, vanilla milkshakes with bits of bean still visible served up in the metal shaker, and the best–I mean *the best*–cheeseburgers I’ve ever had in my life.

The entrance was angled on the corner so that when you walked in, you were greeted by the sight of two things nearly simultaneously. To the left was a long diner counter, red bar stools in front of it and behind it, a waitress wearing a pink dress covered by a white apron and a little nurses’-type hat. This was in the early 1990s, by the way, but I’m guessing it wasn’t too different when my dad hung out there in the 60s.

To the right was heaven, at least to a chocoholic, because this establishment also made candy and to-die-for chocolate year-round.

Deno, the owner, was one mean candy machine.

My mom used to buy his Easter eggs for my brother (coconut) and me (peanut butter) every year. If you’re envisioning those tiny, poor excuses for candy made by Reese’s or Cadbury’s, think again. These babies were the size of my hand–my adult hand, not my five-year-old one. And the best part was that the top was hand-decorated with flowers and swirls and *sigh* my name.

In pink!

In cursive!

So, every Easter morning after the excitement had died down from our indoor egg hunt (plastic, bright, filled with coins, and marked with our names), it was time for that first bite into the M of Michelle (good thing the eggs were so darn big!). I’d curl up with the dog, fill my mouth with tooth-achingly sweet peanut butter goodness, and dream about being that proverbial kid in the candy store.

Not surprisingly, Easter was always accompanied by an overwhelming urge to watch Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

The building of the old diner is still there, but you’d never recognize it. Last I heard, Deno was still making candy and selling it out of another locally famous establishment. But even when Deno has made his last egg, his place will still exist in my and many minds exactly as it was for decades.

And isn’t that what’s great about the recesses of our minds? I remember every detail right down to Deno’s welcoming smile and the greasy grill smell as if I just scooted into a booth yesterday–but all I really did was reminisce about seeing my name in pink (in cursive).

Can Easter, or life, get any sweeter?

Buona Pasqua a tutti–photos of Calabrian festivities coming soon!


[tags]chocolate eggs, diners, homemade chocolate, easter, easter eggs[/tags]

14 Beans of Wisdom to “deno’s easter eggs”
  1. cheeky

    Buona Pasqua! Geseënde Paasfees!
    I love hearing about these memories. Fond memories are a nice place to go. They will forever be engraved in our minds. (Not to mention when you mention the burger and shake, I want one now!)
    Looking forward to the coming photos and words.

  2. JennDZ

    Buona Pasqua!

    My cousin who I love so much..her name is Michelle I never knew that was your name! 🙂
    So many similarities!

  3. avery

    Buona Pasqua! What a nice memory. Oh how I miss peanut butter eggs. Kinder and Lindt are good but there’s nothing like the peanut butter ones in the US. Yum.

  4. 1lifelonglearner

    I, too, grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and have very similar memories to so many of yours. Your description of the local restaurant is eerie. Ours was called Chacona’s and it was a Saturday afternoon tradition for coke and fries every weekend for myself and my high school girl friends. That is – after a stop at Newberry’s to check out the latest clothes and cosmetics. Thanks for the flashback !

  5. anna

    That was a lovely memory. Buona Pasqua to you too, Michelle.

  6. Carole D.

    Buona Pasqua Michelle, although it’s the next day for you. Do you celebrate la Pasquetta?
    We had our share of home made connoli for dessert.

    Can’t wait to see the pictures!

  7. tarzan

    Ooooh, bless your heathen heart, I am looking forward to your next entry.
    Your blog is absolutely priceless – you grant me a sneak preview of everyday life dangerously close to my future home.(Santa Caterina, Guardavalle, Monasterace…know them by heart… Love that ferrovia!)
    Can’t wait for that book…

  8. Shan

    What a great memory!

  9. The Other Girl

    It’s sad when those places disappear, isn’t it? I still have fond memories a diner across the street from my high school, where the owner, who’d been there for about 30 years at that time, would toss scoops of ice cream in the air behind his back and catch them on cones or in milkshake cups. His cheeseburgers were just awful, but he could really put on a show.

  10. Wendy

    We used to get those huge eggs too! Not from the same place of course but I’m sure they were very similar to the ones you got! They don’t make anything good like they used too. I had forgotten about these, thanks for reminding me!

  11. JT

    WOW…I didn’t realize that Langis’ was still open in the 90’s. While I loved their cheeseburgers, shakes and chocolate, too…my most vivid memory was going in there and buying a KISS comic book, because I learned that it was printed in their own blood! LOL (I’m sure everyone needed to know that).

    These days, Gertrude Hawks rivals Hershey’s as the favorite chocolate in Northeastern PA. Their famed “Smidgens” are almost as good as…Well, you know! :O

    P.S. Not that I’m counting…but as I look at my Italian wall clock, (the one with the cursive “M” on it), I now notice that in less than 3 days, (70 hours, 44 minutes), with my Hall & Oates-powered iPod in tow…I will have just begun my journey to visit an old friend! 🙂

    See you soon!


  12. Wunschdenker


    Sorry I missed this delightful story from last year – psyched that I didn’t let it get by me again this year! I, too, have such vivid and warm memories of Easter. And, mass at Unsere Liebe Frau zu den Schotten just didn’t hold a candle. …trotzdem, frohe Ostern!!
    P.S. My younger brother’s name is Dino…any idea why Deno, your renowned chocolatier, spells his so?

    Hah, my best guess? One of those things about not really abiding by the correct spellings of names way back in the day. I’m thinking that although “Dino” in Italian is clearly DEE-no, in English, it could be argued, it’d be “DIE-no” as in “asour” 😉 Also, I know Deno was Greek, so maybe that has something to do with it?

    Glad you found this post and enjoyed 🙂

  13. Deno Langis

    Correct guess! Deno is Greek. Dino is Italian. I am now a chocolateer emeritus. After 35 years of candy making ( the last 10 years in my kitchen), I retired last year at the ripe young age of 70. Woo-hoo!! So there you have it – the 13th bean!

    Thanks so much for coming by Deno! And for anyone else coming across this now, check out Deno’s newest passion, photography: Deno Langis’ Flickr. Gorgeous!

  1. [...] Deno’s Easter Eggs: One of my favorite childhood Easter memories–now with an additional comm...
Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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