Omnivore - Sugar-glazed blast from the past

Get the cheese straws

Image It's been years since I set foot in Rhodes Bakery, but, feeling a very Christmassy craving for something to send my blood sugar through the roof, I stopped there Tuesday afternoon.

Whatever else you can say about the place, it's a true blast from the past. There's not a single drop of cozy ambiance unless you find fluorescent lighting pleasant. And the pastry cases are filled with the kinds of stuff associated with "old school" bakeries.

That's not "old school" in the sense that it's a pâtisserie on the banks of the Seine. It's more like a bakery from the days when Betty Crocker ruled the ovens of America.

Rhodes is 30 years old and has been famous from the start for its cheese straws, once an omnipresent snack anywhere people gathered in the South. Just in case you have no intention to buy any when you visit the bakery, there's always a tray on the counter for sampling. You'll be instantly hooked.

I also bought a cinnamon roll and a couple of other pastries. The cinnamon roll in particular sent me careening back to the past. It was drenched in that white, sugar glaze that is almost crispy on first bite and then melts into tooth-tingling, cloying sweetness. I hated that kind of glaze or icing when I was a kid and I still find it obnoxious.

But Rhodes is an intensely nostalgic icon for many native Atlantans — just like the long-gone Rich's bakeries were.