Returning to <em>Soprano</em> Land

Yesterday we returned to Holsten's, a now-famous soda and candy shop here in New Jersey, a week after it starred in the much analyzedfinale.
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Yesterday we returned to Holsten's, a week after it starred in the much analyzed Sopranos finale. Holsten's, of course, is the now famous soda and candy shop here in New Jersey that was the setting for the final moments of HBO's saga.

I have been taking my kids there for years: Good prices, good ice cream, great fries. Now that they are older, they take me, on special occasions. It is a kind of family thing, as for the Soprano family.

When we went there in March, for my birthday, the place was closed for the filming of The Sopranos.

On Father's Day (Godfather's Day?) I demanded a return.

The line was not too long.

Not everyone knows that the crew redesigned the interior of Holsten's for the show.

Now, the changes that we recognized had been made for filming had been undone. The shelves with Beanie babies had been replaced on the wooden walls. The phony mini juke boxes were gone.

The fake mural of a local high school removed in favor of the original corny, pastoral view out a trompe l'oueil window into a pasture full of cows.

A lot of people were ordering the onion rings, previously a minor item on the menu. But now the rings stand for something: for closing the circle or some family bonding in the style of "Will the circle be unbroken?"

We sat at the counter as always. We could see the sign over the grille visible to us patrons "Do not use regular rags or aprons to clean grill."

From my stool, as always, I appreciated a view of the Multimixer, a machine that can make five shakes or sodas at one time. Its ancestors, ancient machines, are preserved above the counter on high shelves to illustrate the evolution of mechanical milkshake technology through the 20th century.

"Could I have a small vanilla shake?" I asked.

"We only have one size," said the counterman.

"Yeah," I said, "That's the size I want."

There has been no change to the sign outside, with its 1940s-looking script and I still hold out hope that Holsten's won't be ruined by fame the way Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy was by the fame of being the site of the hit on Joey Gallo, back around 1971.

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