New Rockford business has long family history

HOMEMADE LIKE THE OLD DAYS—Tracie and Delanie Riebschleger show off some of the good, homemade treats offered at The Sweet Tooth.

HOMEMADE LIKE THE OLD DAYS—Tracie and Delanie Riebschleger show off some of the good, homemade treats offered at The Sweet Tooth.

One of Rockford’s newest businesses may well be one of its oldest. The Sweet Tooth, run by Tracie Riebschleger with the help of her family, is born of a family business started by Greek immigrants in 1906.

The Koinis family began selling popcorn, hot peanuts-and cigarettes-from wagons shortly after they arrived in America, and members of the family have been doing it ever since (except for the cigarettes).

Tracie was drawn to the fascinating vending wagons when she was a child of three or four. The family across the street owned them, and when she saw the wagons coming in after a festival or carnival, she asked her mother if she could cross the street and get a closer look. Her mother always told her no.

She was allowed to play with the boy who lived there, though. They would catch bees together. Eventually Tracie’s family moved away. Years later, when both were working a summer job at a harness racing downs, she began to date the guy who worked the wagon and whose family owned the concessions there. She didn’t make the conection until he took her to his house-across the street from her old home.

Now Tracie is working the family trade, selling carmel popcorn and apples made in the shop at 53 E. Bridge by the original Koinis recipe. It’s not even written down. The neighbor she ended up marrying is local businessman Ron Riebschleger, and he holds the family recipe. Much of the equipment in the store is also handed down and dates to the 40s and 50s. For those who love old-fashioned, authentic treats, this store will be tops.

The Sweet Tooth offers a wide variety of popcorns, a Chicago-style that is better, some say, than the stuff you buy in Chicago. The cheese popcorn is also made completely by scratch. There is fountain pop, and Tracie’s favorite, shaved ice. With 26 varieties and two in sugar free, there are plenty of flavors to choose from. Kids like the Tiger’s Blood because of the deep color. Also popular is Crazy Eight, a mix of eight flavors that should not taste good together but do.

Remember Fizzies? You put the tablets in a glass or bottle of water and have carbonated, flavored water. They sell those at The Sweet Tooth. Other “retro” candies are available as well as gift baskets. Coming soon are balloons that you can stuff with any number of items, from lottery tickets to cash to Teddy bears.

IN THE FAMILY—The Koinis family popcorn wagon. After coming to America from Greece, the Koinis family went into business for themselves in 1906. Family have operated the businesses continuously since and most recently opned doors May 30 as The Sweet Tooth at 53 E. Bridge in downtown Rockford.

IN THE FAMILY—The Koinis family popcorn wagon. After coming to America from Greece, the Koinis family went into business for themselves in 1906. Family have operated the businesses continuously since and most recently opned doors May 30 as The Sweet Tooth at 53 E. Bridge in downtown Rockford.

Don’t forget the wagon. The vintage 1976 trailer can be rented out for parties of any occassion. You won’t have to work the equipment, it will come stocked with the good stuff, caramel corn or apples, taffy, cotton candy and sno cones, depending on your appetite.

“This is really helping the kids develop a good work ethic,” Tracie said. “That’s one of the reasons I decided to do it.” In addition to Ron’s recipes and hard work, children Zak, 13, Brett, 11, and Delanie can be found putting in hours at the shop. In addition to the family crew, The Sweet Tooth also hired a dozen youngsters for summer work.

“People may joke about the family working a candy wagon, but it put three boys through college,” Tracie said, referring to Ron and his two brothers. “It put them through college, and then one though architecture school, one through law school, and one through dental school.”

The Sweet Tooth is open Monday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 6 p.m.

Other Stories from the Squire

Top News…

Michigan ChalleNGe cadet meets Dale Earnhardt Jr. ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Respect, hard work, … [Continue Reading...]

Attention veterans! A call to action. Please stand for those who have fallen.   The Moving … [Continue Reading...]

The Rockford Girls’ Lacrosse team has been ranked number one in the Division One poll for most of … [Continue Reading...]

By JOHN HOGAN Rockford - and most of West Michigan, became a water wonderland last week as a … [Continue Reading...]

More Posts from this Category

In Other News

Knowing Your Competition   by David Broyles SCORE Counselor   Regardless of … [Continue Reading...]

Downtown Rockford was as busy this sidewalk sale week as in past years, despite a heat index of over … [Continue Reading...]

Rockford resident, writer and photographer John Hogan shared this picture with the Squire. The … [Continue Reading...]

David S. Fry

They wrote the book on cottage law—literally Recently, Attorney David S. Fry opened the … [Continue Reading...]

More Posts from this Category

Comments

  1. Sue Carpenter says:

    does the “the sweet tooth” shop have a phone number and or a website ? I want to order some carmel corn…directory assistance could not find a phone # for me.
    thanks,
    Sue

  2. Sue Carpenter says:

    is there another carmel corn shop in
    Rockford ? I used to buy some on N.Main St in the 1950s when I was a child ..the shop was next to the Times Movie theater..I will have a spell if I can’t buy some of that caramel corn soon, LOL
    Sue

  3. sue peterson says:

    hey sue –
    the little chocolatier (not sure i spelled that correctly) next to Heartland Church – off alpine and newberg – has FABULOUS caramel AND cheese corn and combos of both !!

Speak Your Mind

*