“Site of the Original Quaker Oats Empire!”
If you're a fan of oatmeal (and who isn't?) then your trip through the Buckeye State won't be complete without a stop at the ultimate oat fan's holy grail: Quaker Square, the original home of the Quaker Oats Empire. Originally built in 1872, Quaker Square was once home to the General Mills American Oatmeal Company, founded by Ferdinand Schumaker. Eventually, a huge merger by several businesses turned the American Oatmeal Company into the Quaker Oats company, and the buildings located on Quaker Square become the Quaker Oats Cereal Factory. By 1932, the square had 36 grain silos on site, each measuring 120 feet tall and 25 feet wide. In 1970, Quaker Oats produced their last batch of cereal in Akron, and two years later, the entire Quaker Oats complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Not wanting to completely disregard a plot of land that was once the single biggest source of jobs in the city, work quickly began to turn the facility into a tourist center honoring the Quaker Oats company. In 1975, Quaker Square officially opened with a handful of quirky shops that paid tribute to the past. The Trackside Grille & Ice Cream Parlor is a quirkly little eatery that's themed around the raidloads which once carried oats in and out of the city. In fact, the Trackside's dining room is actually constructed out of the original beams and columns of the Quaker Oats factory. It's a great place to grab lunch, known particularly well for having some of the best chicken wings in town. There's also the Quaker Square General Store, which is themed much like an old time general store, but features exclusive Quaker Oats oatmeal cookies, pie-baking classing, and a wide selection of old-timey candy. It also houses a great comic book shop and a neat train museum that was built with assistance from the University of Akron. The coolest repurposing of the property, though, hands down, went to the old oat silos. Rather than demolish them, Hilton swooped in and turned them into a hotel. That's right, you could sleep inside one of 196 completely round rooms, right where Quaker Oats used to house the oats you ate for breakfast. Unfortunately, the Quaker Square Inn held its last hotel guests in 2013, having been purchased by the University of Akron as student housing. The lucky college students now have the most unique dorm rooms in America. Today, Quaker Square is still an awesome place to visit on your trip through Akron, not just because you can actually walk through the history of your favorite breakfast food, but because it's become such a vibrant part of Akron, even quite literally, becoming part of the University of Akron. If nothing else, it's worth a stop for the killer oatmeal cookies.
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