This week, I took my kids to AJ Bombers for the first time and they were absolutely enthralled by the free peanuts and how it was customary to toss the shells on the floor.
There are thousands of peanut shells on the floor at Bombers, so when you walk around, it makes a delightful crunching sound.
My kids were dramatic with their shell tossing. At one point I had to remind them that shells were not confetti and they could not be thrown in the air. After that, they mastered a system that involved eating peanuts until they had a pile of shells, and then casting them by the handful onto the ground, always with big smiles and at times with sound effects.
This experience reminded me of being a kid and going to the Ground Round on Port Washington Road. I wondered what happened to the Ground Round, and so I did a little research.
Turns out, the chain still exists – there are 30 locations in 13 states – but there were more than 300 locations in the '80s. At that time, the Ground Round was known for playing silent movies, having a mascot named Bingo the Clown, a pay-what-you-weigh night and, of course, the peanut-shelled floors.
Today, the remaining Ground Rounds have a slightly more upscale atmosphere and are not as kid-focused. They no longer serve free peanuts.
Does this mean Bombers is one of the only eateries in the country that encourages shell tossing? Of course, people discard shells on the ground at stadiums, but what about restaurants?
In an age when so many parents are teaching kids not to litter and stressing the importance of recycling, the act of throwing shells on the ground is particularly refreshing – even freeing – for kids from the usual rules. I'm all for it.
As long as it's clear that the behavior starts and ends at Bombers.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.