As you travel down Interstate 55 or historic U.S. Route 66 south of Litchfield, it’s hard to miss the hot pink elephant that sits on the west side of those roads. If you look further, you’ll spy a green spaceship, the giant top of an ice cream cone, and a large man and woman. What have you found? It’s the Twistee Treat Diner and Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston.
Both are frequent stops for national and international tourists as they follow the historic highway. There were license plates from Texas, Tennessee and Maryland on a quiet Monday morning.
Later in July, a busload of newspaper and magazine editors were expected to stop, shop, eat and learn as they traveled Route 66. The historic route is advertised internationally, and it’s not unusual to have tourists from as far as Japan, Australia and several European countries stop in.
On a daily basis, folks can be seen taking selfies with the pink elephant, stopping in for food or ice cream, and perusing the antiques.
Housed in the former Livingston High School gymnasium, the antique mall came first. It rents booth space to about 50 antique enthusiasts who staff the shop twice each month. The pink elephant was discovered by owner Davey Hammond and knew it would be just the object he needed to draw attention to the antique mall. He later added the other giant items and continues to watch for others on the internet.
Around seven years later, he added the large multi-colored ice cream cone with walk-up windows and began serving ice cream treats such as the popular twistee cone, a combination of chocolate and vanilla soft-serve.
Two short years later, he built a 50s diner between the mall and the ice cream shop. The bright pink and turquoise decor is like stepping back in time. The neon jukebox plays 50s tunes and turquoise and white booths lend a feeling of nostalgia. One corner sports a variety of Route 66 items including an old gas pump and the front-end of an old Chevy, and the walls bear images of James Dean, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.
It’s not unusual to have kids, young and old, come in wearing 50s attire, order a burger and take photos. Burgers are the diner’s specialty, especially the cheeseburger. They are made to order from fresh, never frozen, hamburger, and the buns are grilled. The diner has daily specials posted by the front door. The best-selling cheeseburger was the special on Monday.
The menu consists mainly of sandwiches and ice cream. Sandwiches include burgers, grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, Philly cheesesteak, corndogs and grilled cheese, all for wallet-friendly prices from $3.50 to $7. You can add fries and ice cream to make it a basket from $8.50 to $10.
The ice cream menu is extensive and includes a wide variety of soft-serve and hand dipped ice cream, shakes, tornadoes and sundaes. Clever Twistee creations include the Super Elephant, which is a bowl of vanilla ice cream with brownie, banana, hot fudge, nuts and whipped cream and the Jungle Delight of chocolate ice cream, cherries, brownie, chocolate sprinkles and whipped cream. If you don’t see quite what you want, they will add toppings and mix-ins to match your heart’s desire.