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Some of the information presented here was obtained from the book "Tales From the Trees" published in 1981 by Ailene Hayes Schneider.

Princess Sweet Shop

The Princess Sweet Shop was a mainstay of Minonk's main street for over 60 years. It was located where the current IGA store is now. The store was opened in 1915 by two Greek immigrants, Tom and Nick Paloumpis. The Paloumpis brothers made candy that was famous throughout the state in addition to running an old-fashioned soda fountain and snack shop that was a favorite place to meet friends over a chocolate soda or a banana split. The store was especially festive at Christmas time with candy canes hanging from the ceiling and Christmas decorations everywhere.

Tom Paloumpis came to the United States in 1910 at the age of eighteen to Milwaukee to work for a cousin. Though he worked for a meager salary at long hard hours, he realized that he wanted to stay in America. He cashed in his return ticket to Greece and sent the money to his brother Nick so that he could come to America and join him. Tom and Nick worked in Chicago and Streator before coming to Minonk. They would never see their parents again although Tom did return with his family to Greece in 1931 for a visit. Tom met his wife Sophie Christofilis in Gary Indiana. She had been born in Kalymnos, Dodecanese Islands near Greece and lived in The Bahamas before coming to the States. They were married in 1921 in Gary. Unfortunately, her father was killed by a streetcar in Gary two hours after the wedding. They buried her father in Gary and cancelled their honeymoon.

The Paloumpis were good businessmen and very civic minded. They had the first neon sign and the first air-conditioning in downstate Illinois. Each Christmas they would go around to all the country schools and pass out candy and gifts to the children. Many confectionary delights and fountain creations were invented at the Princess Sweet Shop. Among the candy were the "Uncle Toms", the "Herkies" and the famous candy canes.

They also made their own ice cream, which was used in making the Malt-T cups, sodas, sundaes, milkshakes and banana splits. In addition to the standard fountain creations such as cherry cokes, one could get a 'green river' which was a mixture of lime, cherry and 'fizz' water, as well as a chocolate phosphate which was chocolate mixed with 'fizz' water. Fizz water was another name for carbonated water. The mirror lined walls surrounding the wooden booths and marble tables in the ice cream parlor gave a spacious feeling to the store. It was a favorite gathering place after basketball or football games. Occasionly an out-of-towner would stop by for a snack unaware of the peculiar Minonk water to which the locals had become accustomed. One would have to stifle their laugh after seeing the innocent stranger spit out his first sip of coffee in disgust.

Many old-timers remember the smell of popcorn permeating the soft summer nights from the popcorn stand outside the Princess Sweet Shop to provide snacks for the large crowds that would gather to shop in downtown Minonk. This was in the days when Minonk was the place to go to shop on Saturday nights and was the social gathering of the week for everyone.

Tom's son Hercules (Herc) took over the Princess Sweet Shop and operated it until 1969 when he sold the candy business to Duane and Ivanel Cunningham. They eventually sold the Minonk business to Kristy Ruestman and Craig Meyer who continue to sell the original Paloumpis candy as Cunningham Candies. The Princess Sweet Shop was demolished in the 1970's and replaced with a grocery store.

Pictured next to the ten gallon containers of ice cream in the basement of the Princess Sweet Shop are Tom Paloumpis, Nick Paloumpis and Tink Elliot.

Click here for the Princess Sweet Shop menu.