I had my doubts when Ann told me she wanted to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Okla. For me, I couldn’t see how this would be time well spent. I envisioned a crowded store with mostly middle-aged women roaming around, oohing and aaahing at spatulas and cast iron skillets with the same starry eyes that middle school girls have at a Justin Bieber concert. As it turns out, I was not wrong.
But men, listen up, here are six good reasons why you should go:
1. Real butter.
Cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, blondie bars, and cookies, all made with real butter. Just go to the bakery and settle in. You can thank me when you wake up from your carb-induced food coma.
2. Happy wife, happy life.
Let’s be honest for a minute, guys. Our wives do some great things for us and visiting The Merc (as Ree calls it) gives us a chance to do something nice for them. When we visited, we hoped to enjoy an early supper there. We pulled up and found a line stretching about 3/4 of the way up the block. I told Ann that she could go inside and have fun looking around the store and I’d stand outside in the line for a table in the deli. She took me up on it, and so I stood there for nearly two hours, gaining quiet hero status among my wife and the dozens of other women who comprised 88% of the people in line.
And the best part? At the end of my wait, I sat down to a tall glass of blackberry tea and a plate of Ree’s chicken fried steak. It was a fork-tender, thinly sliced ribeye, breaded and fried to perfection, served with a side of delicious mashed potatoes, all smothered in creamy country gravy. I ask you, who came out the winner on this one?
3. You’ll feel truly welcome.
We pulled up in Pawhuska about 3:10 p.m. on a sunny, Oklahoma day in June. About two minutes after pulling my hero routine and telling Ann to go inside while I waited, I began to regret that decision as the sun relentlessly beat down on me and my bald spot. But then a nice young lady named Meg came along and offered me an umbrella and a bottle of water.
And I stood, out of the worst of the sun, thirst quenched, chatting with others who were waiting, and had a really pleasant afternoon. All of this made me wonder, ‘What business does this sort of thing?’ This was not normal. It was far better than that — it was humanizing. The Drummonds actually care about the people who come to their store, and that’s pretty special.
PIN FOR LATER
On the show, the Drummonds appear to be fairly normal and down-to-earth people that you think you’d probably like to get to know. While we didn’t have the chance to meet them, after visiting Pawhuska I’m convinced it is not just an act you see on TV. People in line told us they’d seen Ladd come out of his office which is upstairs near the bakery (lucky man). They said he doesn’t use a secret door. Instead, he walks up and down the stairs like everyone else, chatting with people and stopping to pose for pictures along the way.
4. The prices won’t break the bank.
In creating The Merc, the Drummonds created a business to which hundreds of people flock daily. They could charge whatever ridiculous amount they wanted for the food and merchandise. And visitors would pay. In fact, this is what I expected — after all it happens nearly everywhere we go these days. But that was before I realized they believe their customers are people.
The prices are completely reasonable. Ann, Meghan, and I each had dinner, some extra sides, and a bottomless glass of the best iced tea any of us had ever had for $64. Likewise, we picked up a few new things from The Merc that were also in line with pricing we see in other kitchen stores. It was obvious to us they are in this to share with their fans, not take advantage.
5. Charmin in the bathrooms.
They have Charmin toilet paper in the bathroom. Real Charmin. I could go into details on why that’s a good thing, but I think we all know.
6. You’ll love the food.
Chances are, if your wife wants to visit The Merc you are already an unknowing fan of Ree Drummond’s. More than once I’ve complimented Ann on a delicious dish, only to find out that it came from one of our Pioneer Woman cookbooks. Spicy queso dip, warm tomato soup with parmesan crisps, chicken enchilasagna, and pan fried pork chops are some of Ree’s dishes. Yum.
And, because of Ree Drummond, we always use real butter, and we always grate fresh cheese. Men, this is something you want to cultivate. Ree can flat out cook, and everyone, (women and men) can learn something from her.
I’m sure I’ll likely return to Pawhuska someday. In fact, just writing this blog post reminds me of those cinnamon rolls and makes me want to get in the car right now. I guess what I want to say is, men, if your wife says she wants to go to Pawhuska, don’t be afraid. Trust me — pack some loose-fitting pants and go!