I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Pontoon Beach, Illinois.

Greetings from Pontoon Beach, Illinois
N 38° 45.620’  W 090° 04.033’  Elev. 417 ft.

I’m not a nutritionist. Nor am I a doctor, though I admit I hope to one day play one on TV. Nevertheless I believe Cream of Wheat constitutes a nutritious breakfast, providing you don’t load it up with butter and sugar (which I highly recommend). The chances of finding Cream of Wheat on the road, however, are slim to none. But there is always oatmeal.

I usually pass on ordering oatmeal on the road. I don’t know the actual process involved but when a handful of oats crosses a restaurant’s threshold it goes through a mysterious transformation and its value skyrockets.

I once saw foo-foo designer “stone-milled” oatmeal listed on a menu for 7; I noted the lack of a dollar sign, decimal point and zeroes which usually means it’s grossly overpriced and thus healthier … for the restaurant’s bottom line. I asked the waitress if it was better than, say, oatmeal. She replied that it came with pieces of seasonal fresh fruit in it. (It turned out the seasonal fresh fruit was: Apples!  Do you have any idea how long apples last in cold storage?) I can’t imagine why I didn’t order it.

I’m always surprised if I find oatmeal (served with the obligatory trinity of raisins, brown sugar and milk) for less than $3.50. So imagine my surprise to find it in a Hen House for $2.25!

The Hen House is a four-restaurant chain of breakfast-to-dinner restaurants in Illinois. And all of the breakfasts everyone else seemed to be enjoying the morning I was there appeared to be pretty substantial and reasonably priced. None of the breakfasts were as reasonably priced as the oatmeal, of course.

But easily the best thing about going to the Hen House for reasonably priced oatmeal is this: I now have another opportunity to shamelessly retell a reasonably (to me) good joke I wrote:

There is a group of truck drivers in Wahoo, Nebraska who haul bulk grain most of the year. One winter during their downtime they formed a band that plays Philly soul-pop. They originally called themselves The Quaker Avena Sativa* Truckers. But the name proved to be too cumbersome and difficult to fit on a marquee. They now call themselves Haulin’ Oats.

And so we roll.

*Avena sativa is the scientific name for domesticated oats. Now the joke is ROTFLMFAO-funny, right?

Hen House, 1250 E. Chain of Rocks Rd. (I-270 & Hwy. 111, Exit 6B), Pontoon Beach, Illinois, with restaurants in Arcola, Springfield, and Mahomet, Illinois

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

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