Odds are you probably haven't heard of Stew Leonard's if you don't live in the Northeast. But I'm here to tell you all about it and why it was such a magical place for me as a kid.

Stew Leonard's is a large grocery store with a very farmer's market like atmosphere. Once you step through the doors, you see this epic monument

You know that you are in good hands

What makes Stew Leonard's so awesome?

1. Animatronic Animals-

Yes, there are more singing robot creatures than the Pirates of the Carribean ride. They were activated by the push of a giant red button. Few things are more enjoyable as a kid than being actually able to push the red button.


There was also this one beastly animatronic cow that would moo loudly and scare 50% of the kids. Only the bravest kids got close enough to the cow to press the button.

No I'm not putting my head near that thing

2. Free Samples-

Who doesn't love free samples? At Stew Leonard's there were plenty of cookies and other goodies to satisfy the hungriest and grabbiest of children.

3. Yearly Events-

Outside of the store, there was a tent sent up which functioned as a bazaar, an outside eatery, christmas tree stand, and come October one of the coolest Halloween mazes.
I remember they had two options for the Halloween maze, you could go to one with the lights on or off. It being my first time, I chose to go in with the lights on. It was a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of the special effects that you normally can't when it's pitch black.

4. People in Costumes-

I was never a fan of the people dressed up as farm animals but my younger siblings were and it made for some great photo ops. Only if I was feeling particularly goofy would I wrap my arms around a heffer and show off a cheesy smile.

5. A Petting Zoo-

This was okay, but I couldn't find myself getting that worked up over goats and chickens. Nonetheless, it was a nice feature and the setup was pretty cool with an old fashioned windmill.


6. "Free" Ice Cream-

Stew Leonard's had this cool gimmick where when you are checking out and if you spend over a certain amount of money, a red light flashes and a siren goes off and you get a coupon for a free ice cream cone.
I remember my parents would let me quick pick something out so that we would have spent enough to win a free cone.

7. A suggestions box-

In case for some reason, you were not completely happy, you could always get that feeling of satisfaction after submitting a complaint.

Some of my favorite foods to get there-

"Oh, B-A-N-A-N-A!"- Donkey Kong

Premade meals including the best chicken strips in the world

Cider and donuts were always great

In summary, Stew Leonard's made for some great childhood experiences. Now that my family has moved away from the east coast, I look back at Stew Leonard's with even more nostalgia enriched happiness.