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- [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by- - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu. - [Announcer] Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com. - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads," have you ever had a Sun-drop soda? Well, we're going to a place in Tullahoma that pays homage to the iconic drink. Then we'll discover four generations of world-class guitar craftsmanship in Nashville. We'll give a taste of an entrepreneur's Music City Chocolate creations. And finally, we'll travel back to the days of malts and muscle cars at Lebanon's Snow White Drive In. Well, long live rock and roll, and thanks for joining us. I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome. If you grew up in the South, chances are you had a few Sun-drop sodas. The taste takes you back to your childhood. Well, Cindy Carter found a great little place in Tullahoma that takes you back as well. And they're all about Sun-drop. In fact, it's even in the name. - [Cindy] Sun-drop, the golden cola. It's a citrus flavored soda beloved by those who are familiar with it. And in Tullahoma, Tennessee, that's pretty much everybody. - [Ashley] This is the Sun-drop place. I mean, everybody grew up with it. - [Cindy] Ashley Davis is the general manager of the Sundrop Shoppe and Luncheonette, a local eatery fashioned in the style of an old drugstore soda fountain and cafe. And of course, the soda at this soda fountain that is revered above all, Sun-drop. - [Ashley] So we do the Sun-drop float, we do a cherry Sun-drop float, and we do a Sunkist orange cream soda float. And those are to die for. - [Cindy] More on those delicious desserts in a minute. As for the highly caffeinated drink that inspires them, Sun-drop was created in St. Louis in 1949 and primarily bottled and distributed across a few southern states, including Tennessee. Tullahoma's, Prescott Bottling & Distributing Company bottled Sun-drop until 1991 and continues to distribute the soft drink in five middle Tennessee counties. Paige Prescott Moore opened the Sundrop Shoppe and Luncheonette in 2019, an extension of her family's longstanding connection to Sun-drop. - The response has been insane. Insane. People that come here love it and they come here often. The people that grew up with Sun-drop grew up in the soda fountains, you know, and these two ideas merging, I think immediately made people feel like this was home. - [Cindy] A home that is open from eight to three and serves breakfast all day. Check out the Queen City Platter. Or how about a T-Town Special? - [Ashley] I probably make 100 pancakes a day, at least. - [Cindy] The restaurant's lunch menu also offers savory soups and salads, as well as hot and cold sandwiches that are Prescott family favorites, like Granddaddy's Pimento Cheese or Aunt ME's Chicken Salad. - [Ashley] I always tell people to try the chicken salad. - [Cindy] Why? - We hand make everything. I cut up everything for that chicken salad myself with my own two hands. French dip is one of our most popular sandwiches. We do a pot roast instead of steak, which really sets us apart. I always tell people to try the white chicken chili. - Here's the thing, Sun-drop isn't just a brand, it's not just history. Here, it's the secret ingredient. You'll find it in everything from the obvious Sun-drop float to the not so obvious chicken salad. And nothing satisfies that sweet tooth like settling in at the counter for those soda fountain favorites, like a Sun-drop or cherry Sun-drop float, milkshakes and malts, ice cream sundaes, or a big old banana split. - Some of the biggest, most beautiful banana splits. The waitresses love those 'cause it's a chance to get creative. We have the best ice cream. I personally taste tested every ice cream I could find until- - [Cindy] That's a tough job. - Yes, very tough job to do. I taste tested until we found the things I thought were perfect. - [Cindy] And the whole experience inside this Sundrop Shoppe and Luncheonette pays homage to that iconic lime green and bright yellow brand. Shelves and shelves of memorabilia and merchandise for sale honor the golden cola and customers seem to appreciate not just the food but the trip down memory lane. - 'Cause it is a smaller cafe, it makes people sit a little closer. You're able to lean back to the table behind you and chitchat. I think it's a meeting place for the community, - [Cindy] A place, a piece of history, and a Southern tradition. If you know Sun-drop, then you know. But even if you don't, the Sundrop Shoppe and Luncheonette is a sweet introduction. - [Ashley] When people like it, they really like it. They don't just like it, they love it. It's something that everybody recognizes around here. It's their childhood. - Thanks, Cindy. To make great music, someone needs the talent to make a great instrument. There are quite a few talented Tennessee craftsmen who make guitars and other stringed instruments. However, the name Delgado represents four generations of world-class craftsmanship. Now, this is a story that began in Mexico and continues nowadays in Nashville. - We've been around for 94 years. We have over 45 different types of instruments that we make, and we have some pretty well-known artists within all of those different genres of music that play 'em. - [Joe] Manuel Delgado's custom handmade instruments are part of a proud family tradition that began in 1928. That's when his Mexican born great-grandfather and great-uncle went from building cabinets to building guitars and the Delgado brand was born. Manuel's father Candelario became the second generation luthier just before the business moved to Los Angeles. There was little doubt young Manuel would follow in his footsteps. However, as a young man, he was also attracted to law enforcement. - I was still working in the shop, but I was going through the process with the LA County Sheriff's Academy, going through all the background information and everything. And when my father got diagnosed with cancer, that's when I just decided to go back to the shop and I don't regret it, I don't. Yeah, the guitars don't shoot back at you. - [Joe] Manuel, who built his first guitar at age 12, follows the family tradition of quality craftsmanship, building each instrument by hand using mostly old style tools and even some he made himself. - Most people do what they call a dovetail joint. They build the body of the instrument complete, they make the neck separate, and then they slide the neck into the body. We will actually build the body around the neck, so you never have to do a neck reset on a Delgado guitar. My dog has fleas. That's the tuning for the- - [Joe] A you-kulele? No, it's pronounced ukulele. Delgado has made 'em since day one and Manuel believes they're often rudely underrated. - The ukulele became very popular around the forties or fifties. It was an instrument that was used in schools, actually, going back to schools. And then I think it was really Tiny Tim that kind of put the nail in the coffin, you know? And he just kind of made it not so cool to play the ukulele and it kind of went away. But then we saw in later years you have artists like Jake Shimabukuro, or Eddie Vedder, or Train, all these bands that started implementing that instrument in their music and it became a lot more popular again. I think it's still probably the most popular instrument in the world right now. - [Joe] By the way, moving from east LA to East Nashville was a no-brainer for Manuel. He had a partner who was also ready for a new life in Music City. - I met my wife in 1999 at a church, and she's a singer/songwriter, and she had dreams of coming here to Nashville. And just through life circumstances, we decided to give it a shot. I felt like I had my father's blessing. My mom was always supportive of and continues to be of what I was doing. - [Joe] In recent years, Manuel added electric instruments to its product line. This one was inspired by a very famous rock and roller. - 3764 Highway 51, and that's the address of Graceland. The original one, which is hanging next door, is made from wood from Graceland. This is the chambered body, gold frets. You think of, you know, everything that the king wore was gold, so unbleached nut so it looks like gold. Gold tuners, gold mother of pearl inlay. - [Joe] During the family's 90-plus year history, the list of customers reads like a history of famous guitar players. From classical legend Andres Segovia, to folk music star Burl Ives, to more recent artists like Los Lobos. - People, when they're ready to order a guitar of this caliber, they have several other instruments. So I always ask them to bring in instruments that they have, things that they like. So they might say I really like the way the neck on this one feels. I love the wood on this one. I like the body style. I like the low end on this one. And then we make all of those things into one instrument for them. - [Joe] Naturally, paying several thousand dollars for a guitar is not in the budget of most musicians. That's why Manuel carries several more affordable brands and even gives them the same professional setup as the higher price instruments. - If we have a guitar that we're selling for $150, we still do that same job on it before we put it on the floor. Because even though we're losing money by putting that much time into it, if you leave here, we want to know that you had a great experience buying even that entry level guitar. - [Joe] Manuel feels honored to carry on this Delgado family music tradition, and without a doubt, his late father would be proud. - [Manuel] I think about him every day. You know, I have, I'm surrounded by him and my grandfather, so I feel closest to him when I'm in the shop and I'm able to actually be working on instruments. - [Joe] Well, get this. His oldest daughter, Ava, recently made family history building her first instrument at age 10. - My dad really kind of broke the mold for us and showed us in a culture where sometimes it can be considered, you know, male dominant or chauvinistic, we were taught to kind of, anything is possible, and that's the way that my wife and I are raising our girls. My oldest daughter already beat my record. - When you hear the term Music City, chocolate probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. That might change, though, after you see our next story. Miranda Cohen introduces us to a spirited young entrepreneur who makes decadent chocolatey treats that look as good as they taste. - [Miranda] From a very early age, Ariel Mayberry had a mind for business and a taste for chocolate. It seems both have granted her the golden ticket. She is now the owner of Music City Chocolates & Confections. - Probably the best part about my job is telling people I'm a chocolatier. People just, they're like, is that a real job? I'm like, yes, it absolutely is. Somebody has to make your chocolate. - [Miranda] The road to her dream job wasn't easy or traditional, but the journey itself had a huge impact in molding her success. Mayberry was in business school when a talented pastry chef and mentor suggested that she stage, meaning get her culinary education by working for free while honing her craft. - When you first start as a stage, you aren't trusted with much, right? Because you're just somebody off the street, basically. So they're like, here, chop these strawberries, and you slowly graduate, okay, you get to do biscuits now, and now you get to do all the grunt work that the executive pastry chef doesn't wanna do. But you're just eating it up because you're just excited to be in the kitchen and getting an education. - [Miranda] The young and vivacious entrepreneur worked at fine dining restaurants, bakeries, and alongside James Beard Award winning nominees at elegant hotels, getting a hands-on education and eventually earning enough money to buy her own chocolate business. - I just gathered up all the money I'd saved for the last three, four years working two jobs, and it worked and we, I bought it and I've doubled everything. I've doubled production, I've doubled sales, I've really doubled the press. I've doubled everything. So I've, I'm really excited to see where it goes. - [Miranda] Even though chocolate can be temperamental, sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature and humidity, she knew it was her dark rich destiny. - I knew that chocolate is something I could do extremely well. I just understood it well. I understood the science of it, how to use it, and chocolate is so awesome in a way that you can manipulate it into sculptures if you want. It has strength about it. - [Miranda] By experimenting with exotic flavors, Music City Chocolates is creating bold combinations from around the globe, like toasted honey, chile, banana, and much more. - Over the years, everybody's like flavor palates started developing and the world, you know, opens up and people travel more now and taste different things, and chocolate is so unique in the fact that you can get those different flavor profiles from the organic ones or you can like, go back to your childhood. - [Miranda] From decadent bon bons to chocolate guitars, Music City Chocolates & Confections specializes in unique shapes and lofty flavors. But Mayberry is always staying true to her Tennessee roots. - We try to incorporate local honey, we try to do any local ingredients that I can find that I love that I grew up with. Local strawberries, anything I can find just to help local farmers, local vendors, and lifting other small businesses up. Highlighting, you know, Nashville in the process. We're an amazing place to be. - One of the most popular treats here at Music City Chocolates is the Nashville Bar. They had an artist make a mold that features the skyline of the city on every bar. And just like the unique city itself, the flavor profile is incredible. Behind every corner there is a little surprise. - The skyline of Nashville etched into milk chocolate with Pop Rocks in it. And it's so much fun because people are like, Pop Rocks? What? I didn't know, like they think it's flavored. It's unflavored Pop Rocks. It's purely for joy purposes only. It's just the crunch and it has the fizzle and the pop, and it's part of like, music in your mouth. Music City makes sense. - [Miranda] It is plenty of fun. But Mayberry is also taking Music City Chocolates down a very sophisticated avenue. Thanks to her years of high end culinary training, she has started specializing in chocolate pairings with wine and whiskey, spirited confections, and always with a local flare. - I love our boozy box. It has, you know, all the different liquors, and wines, and whiskeys that you're gonna find in Tennessee incorporated into the truffle. It's just bringing home back into my product. I use a lot of Jack Daniel's, I use Whisper Creek, I use a lot of Pennington Distillery things. Two totally separate things can make a beautiful, beautiful pairing. So a lot of my flavors are kind of Nashville inspired or something that inspires me, and I just kind of make what I like. Voila! - [Miranda] Ariel Mayberry is living proof that hard work really does reap sweet rewards. She loves making delicious and beautiful chocolate creations, all handmade in Music City, packed with bold and creative flavors and the unmistakable taste of her hometown. - This has always been my home, so I just wanna show everybody what Nashville's about and it's, that's why it's Music City Chocolate. It's home. It's the poetic version of my home. - Thanks, Miranda. Remember the movie "American Graffiti"? It's a sentimental look back at a bygone era when muscle cars cruised up and down the main drag and the local malt shop was the center of the universe. Well, if you want a trip down memory lane, you don't need to watch the movie again. Just follow Gretchen Bates to a popular drive-in in Lebanon. - I've been here sixty five years this year. - [Gretchen] As a kid, Billy Wyatt never suspected he'd grow up to own a drive-in, much less his favorite childhood ice cream stop. - Yes, we used to live in the East Nashville. My grandparents lived up here and we'd stop here every Sunday, get ice cream cones going home. And I was six years old, seven years old. I'm 59 now. Never dreamed one day I would own it. It's pretty cool. - [Gretchen] After a long career with the Wilson County Road Commission, Billy retired from his day job to concentrate full-time on feeding a lifetime of memories to the families that frequent Snow White Drive In. - [Billy] We get so many people here. They had their first dates here. They bring their families here. Their family brings their kids here. We have people coming here for 50th wedding anniversaries. It's just, it's a neat place. - [Gretchen] A neat place with a homestyle cooking menu to match. But what this place is really famous for is- - [Billy] The barbecue and the burgers. We've been voted Best Burger in Wilson County for the last four years and we go through a lot of barbecue. Just pulled pork is all we got. It's pretty good. Summertime, I go through six, seven pounds a week. It cooks for 12, 14 hours. No gas, no paper, just all wood, all hickory wood and it's a lot of work. It's good. I took the barbecue and my sister does the cooking. - [Gretchen] She a pretty good cook? - [Billy] Yeah, she's good. Yeah, she's good. Like today is a chicken and dressing day and we'll get people coming from Nashville, Hendersonville, Portland, just for chicken and dressing. Drive all that way just for chicken and dressing, you know? So that's a testament to how good it is. - [Gretchen] Jeremy Ledford would agree. He worked at Snow White as a line cook through high school, but he just couldn't get enough of the place. - Friday's chicken and dressing night, so that's probably one of the best things to get on Friday night. Of course, the milkshakes and barbecue are all good too. It's kind of a Lebanon institution, the oldest restaurant in Lebanon, so a lot of history with it and always has a good following. You can always come in the, there's always a crowd in here. - [Gretchen] Seasoned car hop Polly Barnes has been working at Snow White for over a decade now and loves a good crowd. - Well first of all, it's an icon, and I mean, everybody knows where Snow White is. It's been here for so long. I mean, it's like dirt. It's just one of those icons that people can't forget. My parents came here, my aunts and uncles came here. I mean, what else can I say? It's a big family place. It's just one of those places people just love to come to. I've seen people in and out here since I started here and there's, they still come back. That's what exciting, I mean, and then you see the kids that came in here, now they have kids. That's what's exciting. Just Snow White and everybody knows it and I want everybody to come. ♪ You say you're dreaming of ♪ - [Gretchen] Just about everyone agrees why people love to come to Snow White Drive In. The only thing they can't seem to agree on is the best dessert on the menu. - My favorite dessert would be a large strawberry milkshake. It's gonna send my sugar sky high, but that's what I like to have. - And a hot fudge cake, a fudge cake in my hand. It's good. - Banana split, but the hot fudge cakes are fantastic too. - [Billy] Our desserts are homemade peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler, strawberry cake, orange cake is all homemade. Everything here is homemade. There's nothing prepackaged, frozen, thawed out. It's all, it's all homemade. - Friday night at the drive-in is something special. That's when the Snow White Drive In becomes the Snow White cruise in. These classic cars are guaranteed to get your motor running. ♪ Get your motor runnin' ♪ ♪ Head out on the highway ♪ - [Billy] Cruise in. We do that every Friday night from around four to 8:30, nine o'clock, and we generally have anywhere 50, 60 cars on Friday night during the summer. - [Customer] This is a '67 Shelby GT 350, and it has the 289 high performance engine. As far as we know, it's the only one owner, unrestored '67 in the world. Come out anytime and eat, but come out, especially on a Friday night and you can walk around, see all these cars, and then the car hops come out and they feed everybody out here or go inside if it's hot and sit inside and eat supper there. - [Gretchen] Like this hot spot's namesake, the Snow White Drive In evokes memories of a simpler, sweeter time, and those are hard to come by these days. - [Billy] There's not a whole lot of places like this left anymore. We had 'em back in the sixties and fifties, and you don't see 'em no more. They're all gone. And we're doing our best to hold on to it. This is, to me, it's a pure Americana right here. This is America, you know? - Well, we're gonna have to say goodbye for now, but let me remind you about our website, of course, tennesseecrossroads.org. While you're there, you can download that PBS app and you can of course join us right here next week, and I hope you do. I'll see you then. - [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by- - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu. - [Announcer] Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com.
January 04, 2024
Season 37 | Episode 22
Cindy Carter visits a shop in Tullahoma that pays homage to an iconic soda. Joe Elmore discovers four generations of world-class guitar craftsmanship in Nashville. Miranda Cohen gets a taste of an entrepreneur’s Music City Chocolate creations. And Gretchen Bates travels back to the days of malts and muscle cars at Lebanon’s Snow White Drive-in.