During the Simpsons’ long run, there have been numerous questions and speculations about what state Springfield is in. A few years back, creator Matt Groening revealed that Homer’s hometown was inspired by Springfield, Oregon, a city about 100 miles south of Groening’s hometown of Portland. There are, however, a number of references in the show to suggest that this iconic town could in fact be anywhere in the continental U.S. For this reason, I may push the envelope even further and suggest that Springfield may not even been a Springfield and may, in fact, be Greenfield, Indiana. Although I don’t have a lot of evidence to back this claim, note the following:
- The words Springfield and Greenfield could easily be mistaken for each other in a conversation
- In the show, Shelbyville is Springfield’s hated neighbour. There is a Shelbyville 18 miles south of Greenfield.
- In the Simpsons movie, Homer befriends a pig which assumes the personas of both Spider Pig and Harry Plopper. There is also an iconic pig in Greenfield. Although I’m not sure of its name, it graces the sign of “The Mug”, a roadside drive-in restaurant on Apple Street.
On my way from Cincinnati to Indianapolis I stopped in Greenfield to try out the Mug. A few years back, it replaced the Frosted Mug, a family business around for 5 decades. The change in ownership maintained the small town feel complete with a drive-in option and plenty of outside seating. The difference now is what the owners call farm to curb; meaning most of the meat is single sourced from the Tyner Pond farm and anything else comes from local sources.
At the request of my daughter, we drove into the parking lot and awaited the car side service. A few minutes later a friendly guy showed up and took our order. Shortly after, he apologized and said he’d be back in a minute. He proceeded to run into the restaurant, came out with a bag, hopped in a car and sped down the street, presumably to do a delivery. This action was reminiscent of Homer screeching away in a car in the background after forgetting a birthday, once again reminding me that my hunch may be right. A few minutes later, a different staff member arrived with the grub.
I went with the original burger for just shy of $5 and teamed it up with some fries in a combo. I finished it off with a brewed root beer. The burger was simple and a reminder that things were good long before the days of patties being slathered in aioli or topped with pulled pork or dare I say it…..a fried egg.
As part of the order we also had the mac and cheese ($1.25), coleslaw ($1.50) and the bacon and sweet bowl for $2.50. The first two are self-explanatory. The last is a bacon topped bowl of corn salad flavoured with a bit of leek. It’s one of the few instances in my mid-west dining experiences where I can honestly say the portion size was small (thus the equally small prices). That said, it was more than enough and pretty decent. Although not the best mac and cheese I have had, it held its own. The slaw was good but the corn salad stood out as the winner. Maybe it was the nostalgia of eating corn in Indiana couple with the fine pork of Tyner Pond that made it even better.
Speaking of sweet corn, I had a chat with the incredible staff after and was tempted with their famous 16% milk fat ice cream. The richness of the fat combined with the sweetness of the corn was plain addictive and an ideal finish to a roadside experience.
In the farm to table concept, simplicity is sometimes lost among the pickled ramps and broiled beef cheeks. The farm to curb concept of the mug maintains the commitment to proximal provisions without the convolution of the latest food trends. Single source meat and local dairy highlight a menu that demonstrates that simple and classic can be just as exciting as trendy. Add the old school car side service and it makes for a good outing. Between the delivery guy’s screeching tires and a possible Harry Plopper sighting you may buy into my theory that Green/Springfield may be smack dab in America’s heartland.