Mo Ribs Bar-B-Que, Canton GA (CLOSED)

Man, I’m glad I found this place. I don’t know where else I was supposed to eat.

Well, since the last time I actually composed an entry here, we had our baby! He is a precious little boy that weighed six pounds and twelve ounces at birth, and evidently had such a good time at the showers thrown for him and Marie that he decided to come two weeks early, just a couple of days after all our out-of-town guests left. This sort of left me unprepared for going to get anything to eat at the hospital that we used in the Cherokee County town of Canton other than Mo Ribs. A couple of weeks previously, we had driven past this place on our way back from Chatsworth and I said then that I would have to stop by while we were in the hospital.

The quick succession of events meant that I ended up having wretched hospital cafeteria food for breakfast and for lunch, and the baby came at 3 pm. Four hours later, I drove back to Marietta to pick up his older brother and sister to go meet him and, first, get some food. We went by Mo Ribs, but they’re only open for lunch on Tuesdays. My daughter remembered enjoying Jiffy Freeze, which isn’t far, but it turns out they’re not open at all on Tuesdays. So, not knowing where else to try, we settled, I’m sorry to say, on Taco Bell, which my children, being middle schoolers and thus the target audience for that “food,” find agreeable. But this, this was the worst Taco Bell in the state. Even the kids thought it was horrible. This, three awful meals in one day, was no way to celebrate this baby’s birth. Heck, I remember that day in 1997 when my older son was born, I got a package of New Avengers episodes in the mail. Now that’s how you have a good birthday.

So the next morning, I made darn sure I got back over to Mo Ribs for something good to eat. Darned if I was going to settle for a mediocre lunch after the day before.

I was the only person here when I stopped by at eleven on a Wednesday morning, but don’t take that to mean this place shouldn’t be hopping. This is very good chopped pork, with a really awesome smoky flavor. I neglected to ask for my meal dry, and it came already sauced with a thick layer of deep smoky red sitting atop the meat. My palate was certainly starving for something great, particularly in light of all that garbage that I ate the day before, and so I might not be very objective when I say that this really hit the spot.

The fries didn’t strike me as being anything unusual, but the stew, soupy and very heavy with tomatoes, was quite nice. But oh, my. This sweet tea was so darn good. At its core, this is a pretty good meal, but the tea genuinely elevates it, in a way that the tea at the late, lamented Carrithers of Athens did. My!

The location really works against them, I think. I like the building, tucked into a fork in the road, but there doesn’t seem to be much parking, and it’s a pretty fair ways off the interstate. Nevertheless, it’s definitely a good destination for people in the area or students at Reinhardt University, and travelers taking a barbecue tour up I-575 should certainly add this to their list of stops.

Jiffy Freeze, Canton GA

One of my favorite little traveling roadfood resources is Chopped Onion, a splendid little website that specializes in detailing, not just the usual barbecue and meat-and-three joints that we look out for when making our road trips, but also hot dog and ice cream places. The site’s owner has a particular interest in old, “vintage” Dairy Queen restaurants that have not updated and upgraded their appearance. I certainly understand the fascination; long before that company nailed down its franchise look and feel and started aggressively enforcing its trademark, there were dozens of “dairy queen” restaurants all across the country that were only loosely connected with the parent corporation via use of their soft serve goo machine, just as there were once many dozens of “tastee-freez” stores and many dozens of “zesto” stores, and most of these, by far, are lost to history and memory.

This country’s move towards corporate standardization and homogenization left behind many hundreds of buildings that were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s to sell “dairy freeze zesto”-styled menus, with fast food burgers and hot dogs with a variety of slaws and soft serve goo. Eventually the hammers of trademark lawyers came down and these businesses were told to get a proper franchise agreement going or make it on their own. Most of them must have closed long ago and the stores, eventually, were bulldozed. Some, a small handful, decided to use the existing building and community goodwill to effect a name change and try making it on their own.

Jiffy Freeze looks to be one of these. While I’m not certain what it was originally, the building reminds me of an older Dairy Queen Brazier construction with neither indoor seating nor a drive-through, but they’ve been calling themselves Jiffy Freeze with no hoopla or much in the way of advertising since the mid-1970s. I was very much reminded of Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar in Opelika, which we visited last month, although this place has a considerably larger menu. I’m not entirely sure that you’re going to get the best Philly cheesesteak in the area here, but it looks like they will try and make one for you.

This past Saturday, we were meant to have made a road trip out I-20 to Madison and Augusta, but finances were unexpectedly low, discouraging us from spending the money on gas. This left us free to attend a “couples shower” for Randy and Kimberly at her parents’ house north of Canton, for which we’d earlier sent regrets. People should really know better than to invite us for anything on a Saturday without at least ninety days’ notice. Especially during the football season. The really surprising thing is that this genuinely is not a pretentious affectation of mine; the calendar is quite honestly penciled in through mid-January. At any rate, dropping a visit to Augusta, for now, meant that we could spend an evening with our friends, and visit a little more with Kimberly’s incredibly neat and interesting father, a pastor and musician with fantastic stories to share.

I don’t know anything about the town of Canton, but a little research pulled up this Jiffy Freeze place. I thought that would be an ideal after-shower destination, but I phoned and learned that the darn place closes at the absurdly early hour of 8 on Saturday. Grudgingly, we’d have to stop in on our way to the party. Then, we ended up leaving almost a half hour late to pick up Todd and Samantha for our trip up I-575. Just as well that was a very tasty slaw dog!

Since we’d be eating in just a little while, we just split a footlong with slaw and Marie had a very, very tasty fried peach pie. The pie was a little smaller than many places make them, but it was nevertheless very good. The slaw was very creamy with mayo and made for a simply fine snack. The one disappointment, and it was a mild one, was learning that the “Mississippi Mud” that my daughter ordered was just a prepackaged chocolate ice cream sandwich from, I think, Blue Bunny. She thought it was really good, and I’m always curious to see these sorts of products when they’re unknown to me, but I was kind of hoping she’d actually get to try that actual chocolate pie for the first time.

I can’t swear that Jiffy Freeze is worth a really long drive, but it’s certainly a nice little curiosity for anyone passing through Cherokee County on I-575, and if you like good, creamy slaw, it’s worth a try. I’m very glad that little roadfood places like this are still around and drawing a crowd.