Boone County Sweet Treats

ice creamWhen the heat index increases, visions of chocolate malts, root beer floats, and ice cream cones start dancing in our brains. Over the years, finding a sweet treat in Boone County has never been too difficult.

One of the best-remembered sweet stops in Belvidere was Knapp’s Coffee Shop. Many Belvidere residents fondly recall the sandwiches, coffee, signature malt shakes, and great conversation served up at Knapp’s. Opened during the worst of the Great Depression in 1931, Doc and his wife Irene served Belvidere at their South State Street location for over 60 years. Knapp’s was popular with the whole community, from National Sewing Machine workers getting a quick lunch to schoolkids buying ice cream on their way home. After the Knapps retired in 1998, Mayor Brereton declared a “Doc and Irene Day” to honor their legacy in Belvidere.

North in Capron, Eichelberger’s Confectionary was the place to go for ice cream treats. The shop was often swamped with people from as far as Harvard and Rockford. John and Avis Eichelberger opened their store on February 16, 1946, one month after John left the armed services. The original store that the Eichelbergers bought was a type of pharmacy and hardware store, so the Eichelbergers decided to add an old-fashioned marble soda fountain since there was no ice cream shop in Capron. That soda fountain became their legacy. Besides their famous chocolate malts, one of the confectionary’s most popular dishes was the Hot Fudge Walk-away, a hot fudge sundae in a paper cup and a wooden spoon. The Eichelbergers retired on June 1, 1983, after 37 years serving sweet treats to the community.

Belvidere’s Dari-Ripple on South State Street is probably the most popular place to go for some refreshment today. A staple in the community since 1952, the opening of the Dari-Ripple marks the coming of summer around here. The Dari-Ripple was started by Ivan and Flora Shawvan in 1952 and quickly became a summer hot-spot, popular for soft-serve ice cream. In 1964, their daughter and son-in-law Marian and Wes Draper took over the business, operating it until 2006. It was bought by the Del Pra family in 2007, who kept its original red-and-white sign and many of its signature treats. Now, older generations bring their children and grandchildren to the little white building by the Kishwaukee River, to pass on the experience of eating ice cream at the Dari-Ripple.

~ Jill Fuller, Ida Public Library, Belvidere