The 70th birthday party for Kip’s Toyland - a true “neighborhood toy store” run by 3 generations - had been planned for months.
It was penned in on my calendar. Sunday, October 11, 12-3pm. The scorchiest hours of the year, it turned out. Very gratefully, I made the one-hour trip, as promised, in my nice air-conditioned car.
Lisa and I grew up in Alhambra where, in the style of this old-world treasure Kip’s, there was a neighborhood toy store. I spent my allowance there. It had a whole little section of dolls.
When I first fell in love with Kip’s Toyland, it was because the staff was so much fun and, there were dolls. Also lots of stuffed animals (“plush toys”), play-doh, crayons, the magic 8-ball, the Slip-and-Slide ... all things that remind me of when life was so much easier, just ... not so complicated.
I fell deeper in love when I met the “Mr. Kip”, and learned that there are no electronic or video games sold there. I started buying toys only there for children’s toy drives, and bringing our Tours’ Pampas Brazilian tasting leftovers to the Kip’s staff. Then one day Andres from the store chased me down while I grocery shopped, to bring me a gift.
“For Diane. From Lily. No charge.” The neon lime post-it confused me because, I had asked Lily (3rd generation “Kip”) to hold the neon lime hula hoop for me, about a month prior. I had forgotten about it, but they did not. My day suddenly turned even more magical ... not such an unusual experience for me at the Original Farmers Market.
Armando Jr and Dimitri is one who rarely is invited to a birthday party anymore ;-), I was honored to be part of this 70-year celebration. I even volunteered to cut and serve the exquisite birthday cake from Normandie Bakery in the Market, and my favorite Bennett’s ice cream flavors were offered as well.
There were carnival games, toy prizes, photo booth-style opportunities, a Dodgers clown, a toy soldier band, and really happy children of all ages having fun.
Mr. and Mrs. Kip are 96 and 99 years old, respectively! Why was I not surprised that there is a magical story behind the inspiration of Kip’s Toyland, as shared brilliantly by the LA Times.
Irvin Kipper, a US soldier during World War II, endured violence and spent time in a Prisoner-of-War (POW) camp in Bologna, Italy. In 1945, he wanted to open his own business here at home, and have it be something that was ... fun.
The rest is LA Toy Store history!
By now, Don (son of Irvin) and Lily (granddaughter) operate a truly fun tradition, 7 days a week.
Our great city and - since international visitors shop there daily - our world, are so very blessed for this.
Di with KipsIt’s always pure pleasure to remind the “angelic realm” at Kip’s, how loved and appreciated they are. I couldn’t possibly show up empty-handed!
Here is the recipe for cookies I baked that scorchy morning, to wish Kip’s happy birthday, straight from my heart.
- Kips cookies
- 2 1/4 cup unbleached flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Sift dry ingredients onto piece of waxed paper, and set aside.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- Freshly grated zest of two oranges
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanlla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cream butter with zest, sugars, extracts in large mixing bowl
- Add eggs and combine well until creamy.
- Gradually add in reserved sifted dry ingredients, mixing well and thoroughly.
- Stir in chocolate chips. Cover bowl and chill cookie dough for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 375F
- line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Drop teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Remove from baking sheet after about 5 minutes, transfer to wire racks to cool.
Yields about 6 dozen cookies.
Store any cookies that don't get eaten right away in an airtight container.
Until next time, I remain ~
Your Chef, Tour Maestra, and Gourmet Storyteller,