When Zingerman's had the produce market in Kerrytown for a time in the late 1990s, it was decorated with fifty or so produce-themed salt and pepper shakers. After the market closed, the shakers reposed in boxes in Zingerman's offices until cofounder Ari Weinzweig remembered them one day while he was in the company's relatively new Roadhouse restaurant.
"I was thinking they'd be pretty cool in the bar, just to liven things up a bit," Weinzweig says. "We put them in there, and I liked them, so I decided to do more. Then I liked those and decided to do more, then more, and there you are."
Now there are about 1,100 sets of vintage American salt and pepper shakers displayed in custom-made cases lining the restaurant's walls, and they're in almost as many shapes as there are sets: oil derricks, a television (turn the dials and the shakers pop out), polar bears, lawn mowers, Siamese cats, skyscrapers, tepees, numerous breeds of dogs, a set of Bakelite Washington Monuments that he thinks dates from the 1930s, and a souvenir set from the 1939 New York World's Fair in the forms of the Trylon and Perisphere structures that were its visual signature.