Co-op and Cupcakes: A Day in Iowa City With Iowa Bloggers

I’ve never not had an enjoyable time when hanging out with other bloggers. Writers, in general, seem to make good company and my life is better for having met many throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa.

This past weekend, I spent Saturday in Iowa City with a group of food and lifestyle bloggers. We met at the New Pioneer Co-op in Coralville who graciously hosted us for they first part of the day. They even welcomed us by placing a sandwich board outside of the front door listing all of our names. 
Here are some highlights from the event:
Co-op Envy
New Pioneer is big and beautiful. Like, Minneapolis Wedge Co-op beautiful. Our tour guide showed us around the store and we picked up lots of samples along the way. 
Pioneer sources as many local products as possible and works directly with farmers who grow organic wheat that’s ground into sacks of flour. I was especially envious of their sustainable seafood counter. 
Mason City is much smaller than Iowa City and our grocery store options are limited. HyVee offers organic food and health care product sections, but it’s just not the same as having an entire grocery store dedicated to local, organic and sustainable. And don’t get me started on trying to buy seafood. . .  
I brought home a crusty loaf of sourdough bread and croissants which actually cost the same amount as the generic ones I can find at my grocery store chain. 
The New Pioneer staff cleared out part of their bakery production area for us to gather and passed around rounds of vegan chocolate cake samples. 
Then, we got acquainted over lunch from the deli. I chose a fat slice of tomato and feta quiche along with curried couscous salad.

Afterwards, we visited Molly’s Cupcakes whose owner once won an episode of Cupcake Wars. They offered us 1/2 off a cupcake of our choice so I took home a creme brulee and pumpkin spice cupcake to share with Jake. 
Some of you may remember a little post in which I wrote about all of the reasons why I just don’t like cupcakes. . . 
I’m not one who seeks out cupcakes, but in all honesty, I did enjoy Molly’s. The creme brulee was my favorite since it was covered with a thin layer of caramelized sugar instead of frosting. We appreciated the moistness of the cakes and their complex flavors. 
Blogger Kier showed a couple of us some of her favorite boutiques like the White Rabbit Gallery and AKAR before we all convened at the Brown Bottle for dinner.

Swag Bags

I’d like to thank New Pioneer for sending us home with reusable shopping bags filled with treats like grapefruit-lavender spray, vanilla extract, and smoked paprika as well as Ally of Sweet and Savory Eats for coordinating swag bags filled with gifts like her brown butter chocolate chip cookies and Been There, Baked That‘s granola. I promptly ate these before I could take a photo.

The Chicago mix popcorn from Here’s What’s Poppin of Cedar Falls, IA is shockingly good. This is probably the best cheese and caramel corn I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve eaten a lot of popcorn. The ingredient list is short and sweet and lists real butter. I’m trying to figure out how to justify an hour-long drive to Cedar Falls so I can get a bigger bag.

Final Thoughts
I am smitten with Iowa City. The university intermingles with the downtown area and the city feels like much bigger than it is. I loved walking amongst the students and rowdy adolescents, and past fluorescent signs and crowded bars. Spending time in Iowa City made me realize that I’m a city girl at heart. It’s not that I am unhappy living in smaller communities, but I feel so energized when I’m in the midst of a busy city’s hustle and bustle. 

During the course of the day, I not only learned about topics related to blogging and photography, but also about life on homesteads, raising urban chickens, tapping maple syrup, and parenthood. I came away from this gathering feeling similar to how I’ve felt after attending other blogging events; like I’d made some new friends.

Meet Some Of the Other Attending Bloggers:



    I am up for a drive to Cedar Falls ANYTIME! I am a popcorn lover, too! Just give me a call. Looks like such a fun day! Maybe I can go the next time!!! And…..maybe we can host in MC sometime????

  2. Jenny Unternahrer

    I wasn’t sure about eating the cheese and caramel popcorn together so I ate them separate and then accidentally got two together then man, it was combo after that. Sweet, salty, cheesy, wow!! It was great meeting you and everyone else!!

  3. Jeni

    It’s a nice sweet and salty combo. I don’t crave purely sweet foods that often, but it’s fun to alternate. Plus, that cheese popcorn is really cheesy!

  4. Val

    Sounds like a great time! Hosing in Mason City would be fun – I’d be willing to help!

  5. Anonymous

    We are so glad that you came to the store! Great article. Have a terrific holiday! Genie Maybanks, New Pioneer Food Co-op

  6. newpieats

    Great to meet you, Jeni! I, too, am not much of a cupcake fan… but I picked the creme brulee too and I was really into it! I’m glad you guys made it to White Rabbit – definitely one of my favs. Hope you had a delicious Thanksgiving!

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