Date: February 2020
Location:Willkomm’s Travel Center, I-94 and Route 20, Racine, WI, USA

There is nothing quite as comforting as a slice of delicious Kringle and a cup of hot coffee.” – Olesen family saying.

About 20-or-so miles north of the state line between Illinois and Wisconsin, and 22 miles south of Milwaukee is the town of Racine. Racine was founded in 1834 as Port Gilbert but the name never was popular with the residents. In 1836 the town name was changed to Racine which is a French word for the nearby Root River.

With the establishment of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings of the S.C. Johnson administration and research complex, there came an influx of Scandinavian immigrants to the area.

Part of the heritage these Scandinavians brought to the so-called New World was the range of tempting baked goods for which the Danes are well-known.

Easily the most famous bakery in the Racine area, if not the entire Great Lakes region, is the O&H Danish Bakery. It was established in the early 1940s, but they had been baking tasty treats for at least a generation prior to that.

O&H Danish Bakery
O&H Danish Bakery

The ‘O’ in O&H is the Olesen family, and they are credited with bringing the Danish Kringle treat to Wisconsin. The Kringle is scratch-made at O&H and is available with 21 fillings, including the popular apple and cherry as well as less well-known fillings such as Mediterranean Apricot and Tiramisu. Each Kringle takes 3 days for O&H’s bakers to make.

O&H's Kringle
O&H’s Kringle
The raspberry and the pecan Kringle
The raspberry and the pecan Kringle

O&H features Gokstad premium coffee named after the 9th century Viking longship. The coffee beans are roasted right in Racine for best freshness, and I can assure you that this coffee hits the spot!

More than just Kringles
More than just Kringles

The Washington Avenue bakery location (from which all of the tasty goodness originates) is hard to miss with the replica Viking longship out front!

O&H's Washington Avenue location
O&H’s Washington Avenue location

So, you might ask, what does all of this have to do with pinball? Just a bit more patience from our readers and I will explain it to you.

O&H Danish Bakeries had several locations in the town of Racine and became somewhat of a tourist destination where people on Wisconsin holidays would buy Kringle or other baked goods to take home with them. O&H wisely established satellite sales locations along Interstate Highway 94. Not only could tourists stop and sample O&H’s delicacies, but these satellite locations became popular with long-distance truckers who would buy a slice of Kringle, or a Danish pastry and a cup of coffee ‘to go’.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the O&H Bakery locations along I-94 became part of large Travel Centers. Such things as petrol, diesel, sit down dining, grocery and sundries, laundry, medical clinic (including a Chiropractor), his and hers salon, showers, and even a chapel were part of these roadside centers. In the 1970s the travel centers added coin-operated Arcades to the list of their attractions and here is where our story begins in earnest.

One of the O&H bakery satellites is located inside Willkomm’s (Dutch for ‘welcome’) travel center. It can be found at the intersection of I-94 and State Route 20 at exit 333. They have a well-equipped game room with video games, ‘pusher’ games of skill/chance and, yes, pinball.

The three pinballs at O&H Danish Bakery
The three pinballs at O&H Danish Bakery

The current pinball line up at Willkomm’s includes Star Trek Pro (Stern, 2013), The Walking Dead Pro (Stern, 2014) and Game of Thrones Pro (Stern, 2017) . It would appear as though the games have been cleaned and serviced recently, and a prior problem with an overly sensitive tilt on GOT seems to have been resolved.

Prices are the usual $1/game or $2/3 games. There is a change machine nearby for quarters, and the travel store will break large bills for you if need be.

Other games in the arcade area include a stand-up Multicade, Super Bikes 3, Daytona Championship USA, Golden Tee 2016, and the aforementioned bank of six Jack’s Hi ‘pusher’ semi-gambling games.

Super Bikes 3 from Raw Thrills
Super Bikes 3 from Raw Thrills
A Sega Daytona Championship USA
A Sega Daytona Championship USA
A six-player Jack's Hi Pusher by Coastal Amusements
A six-player Jack’s Hi Pusher by Coastal Amusements

So, in summary, we have at this site the lure of a Danish bakery serving as the come-on for a coin-op amusement arcade for tourists and professional drivers.

Why not check it out if you are in the area? If the games don’t suit you, I am certain that the baked goods will.

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