Jun 30

A CHRISTmas Wonderland in June

On the third night of our road trip, we had a quick dinner at Merriman’s Grill, where a waiter brought me a cup of coffee and enthusiastically told me that it was straight of a fresh pot and then kept lurking around our table with an unhinged smirk on his face like he was waiting for me to take the first sip and choke on hemlock. Totally weird. Henry ended up swapping dinners with Chooch, who wasn’t aware that ordering the kids spaghetti with marinara meant “kids spaghetti with sauce,” so he got to eat Henry’s huge bacon cheeseburger while Henry ate a child’s portion of spaghetti while slumped in his seat. It was incredibly funny to me.

We left straight from there to meet Bill & Jessi at their comic and game shop, Warriors3, which has grown exponentially since we were there for the grand opening 4 years ago. I’m so proud of them! Later that night, when we were back at their (new and amazing!) house, Bill was talking about something and offhandedly mentioned that we were going to Frankenmuth the next day.


“Wait, what? WE’RE GOING TO FRANKENMUTH!?!??!” I screamed.

“Yes, I thought you knew that,” Bill calmly answered. “You said that’s what you wanted to do.”

“YEAH BUT I DIDN’T THINK WE WERE REALLY GOING TO GO!” I screamed again. You guys, I even sent away for a Frankenmuth brochure last year, that’s how down I am with the ‘Muth. “HOW AM I GOING TO SLEEP TONIGHT?!” I continued to scream, in spite of Henry’s full frontal frowning.


But first, we stopped at The Red Apple for breakfast the next morning and that place was a fucking delight: cheap, dimly-lit and definitely somewhere the Bunkers would have eaten on a 1970s road trip. I am so happy Bill and Jessi took us there, and I’m excited to go back the next time we’re in town, only this time late at night when the strippers get off the pole and come in from some black coffee and…what do strippers eat? Peanuts and Slim-Jims.

(This just reminded me of the time about 5 or 6 years ago when I decided I wanted to do a photoshoot/interview with washed up strippers and placed an ad on Craigslist but the only one who responded was like, “I will do this on my terms only and no photos” and I was like, “Oh well, fuck you then.” Maybe if my standards weren’t so rigid, I might have gotten some really important answers. You know, like what do they eat. Other than rotten dreams in tear-sauce.)


Chooch ate a hot dog for breakfast but none of us said anything because sometimes it’s a miracle to get Chooch to eat anything other than ice cream and paper (don’t ask), so sure, happy breakfast, Chooch. And then when he proceeded to get mustard ALL OVER HIMSELF, I just sat back and let Bill handle it because that’s the price you pay when you sit next to a kid at a restaurant.


It took about 90 minutes to get to Frankenmuth and the first thing we came upon was Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world, even larger than the one in the North Pole! I don’t even give a shit about Christmas aside from getting presents, but even I was pretty stoked for this because when in Frankenmuth, you know?


Chooch immediately pointed to Giant Santa’s weener and then lamented the fact that he wasn’t tall enough to touch Santa’s nipples as well, and that is how I found myself thinking about Santa having nipples for the first time in my life. I clearly need to add more Christmas porn to the collection.



They have signs in every language because Santa loves you all. I mean, Jesus does.




You guys, this place is so big that they have some angry old lady at a desk handing out maps as soon as you walk in, and even then, we managed to briefly lose Jessi when a rack of penguin ornaments sucked her in.


The store had this old, indescribable musty smell to it and it just followed us around every corner. I couldn’t quite place it, but it was equal parts comforting and sickening. There must have been a lot of old people there.


If this would have said, “DON’T YOU READ MY BLOG!!??!?!” I totally would have bought it. On that note, there is an ornament out there for everyone. (OK, not everyone. Cannibals and Nazis are screwed. Didn’t see anything relevant to death row inmates or manure packagers, either. Fuck it, Bronner’s, you DON’T have something for everyone.)

But if you know someone who is REALLY INTO Sudoku or Geocaching, then Bronner’s has got you covered. There were even ornaments for insurance agents, if you feel so inclined to get your insurance agent an ornament or if you ARE an insurance agent and want to buy one for yourself and pretend that you actually have a client who really gives a shit about you.


They had actual Easter bunny costume heads for sale but they were like $400! And Jessi and I learned that Nativity sets are really expensive and nothing is included! Not even one lousy camel.


Chooch found the cat section within 3 minutes.


I don’t even want to know what this place is like in November and December, holy shit. The shit stain of humanity under one roof, I’m sure.



It was impossible to walk 10 feet in that joint without stumbling upon some kind of historical shrine Mr. Bronner himself. There was even a presentation room with millions of Hummels behind glass where you could sit and watch documentaries about the Bronner legacy. It was in this room where we found a fan that was blowing puffs of that weird cinnamon/moth ball/1970s airport aroma. They must have had hundreds of those fans hidden around the store, because that stench was inescapable. Maybe it was supposed to be frankincense?

We managed to get out of there before Chooch had the chance to break anything (or before Bill had the chance to break Chooch). There were like 63946923875 ornaments I wanted to buy for our shitty Christmas tree, but in the end I wound up only buying a commemorative Bronner’s ornament because you can’t go to the world’s largest Christmas store without getting a souvenir. I also got a magnet for my cabinet-thing at work and I made sure to tell Glenn all about it when I stuck it on. He seemed pretty unimpressed. I wonder, if I made Christmas tree Glennaments,would Bronner’s sell them…


Down the street from Bronner’s is the Silent Night Memorial Chapel! OMG.



Currently under renovation, obviously.



Henry tried to run away. Maybe if it was the Faygo Vending Machine Chapel, he’d have been a bit more piqued.

I was just going to end this by saying that I can’t believe Bronner’s passed up the opportunity to hand out religious literature, but then I remembered that they slipped some pamphlet in our bag about the heavenly father and Chooch was like, “What does this have to do with Christmas decorations?”

We’re doing a fine job.












4 Comments so far

  1. Michelle H June 30th, 2014 9:21 pm

    Next time you have to stay at the Bavarian Inn. The Zenders family practically built Frankenmuth, and one side owns the Babarian Inn while the other owns Zenders. Our room had really creepy sketches of family members on the walls with the story of the family all over. Plus, the whole arcade/indoor golf course/swimming pool area is in the basement so you lose all sense of time like in a casino. The murals and fake trees under flourescent lighting give you a feeling of seasonal affective disorder even on the brightest, sunniest days.

    I lived in Birch Run, right next to Frankenmuth, until I was four. If you follow the progression of where I grew up it’s easy to understand how circumstances may have warped me.

  2. Tuna Tar-Tart July 1st, 2014 4:07 pm

    I want to stay there so bad :( Next time we come to Michigan, we’ll stay there and then you guys can come over and do Bavarian things with us!

    We ate at the Bavarian Inn, at least. It was wonderful(ly hokey). Sigh.

  3. Michelle H July 1st, 2014 4:40 pm

    That would be a riot! They have Schnitzelbank sing-a-longs in the hotel bar. We can dump the kids with the menfolk and go be idiots.

  4. Alyson Hell July 9th, 2014 2:56 pm

    “Maybe if it was the Faygo Vending Machine Chapel, he’d have been a bit more piqued.”


    I am so excited for you going to Jesusy Bronner’s!! It’s so bad it’s good. I’m gonna send you all the pictures of my ornaments that I have from there now!!!!!!!

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