12 Buildings That Look Like Food

Donut shaped bulding
Photo: soupstance/Flickr

When it comes to structures that resemble food, it’s not just water towers that have all the fun.

There are also numerous buildings that resemble gargantuan comestibles. Most of them are roadside works of programmatic architecture — that is, they’re motorist-snaring buildings that represent the food and beverage items served there, like the Donut Hole in California. Sometimes, the building’s original function changes over the years, as is the case with a landmark giant coffee pot where whiskey shots have long replaced mugs of hot joe.

You could feasibly concoct an entire meal (or at least a really tasty fruit salad) out of our list of notable works of chow-resembling buildings, complete with dessert. Imaginative, eccentric and hugely nostalgic, these food-shaped structures hark back to a time when effectively marketing your business could mean running it out of a three-story citrus fruit.

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Big Banana

Photo: Will Ellis/Flickr

Those who have traveled Down Under are probably well aware of the region's obsession with Big Things: towering — and sometimes terrifying — roadside structures and sculptures that take on various shapes and forms including marsupials, merinos, miners, macadamia nuts and enough fruits and veggies to create a salad fit for Jolly Green Giant.

Arguably the oldest and most famous (just don’t tell that to Larry the Lobster) of Australia’s Big Things is the Big Banana of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Built in 1964 on an active banana plantation, the 1,200-pound concrete muscaceae fruit — yes, it’s a proper building that visitors can venture inside of — is now the crown jewel of an expansive banana-themed fun park (“It’s a Whole Bunch of Fun!”) boasting a mini-golf course, toboggan run, ice skating rink, laser tag and the World of Bananas Experience, an interactive theater experience complete with “hologram-like characters” that “details the discovery of bananas and their advance through history to the present day.” Sounds totally bananas!

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Bob's Java Jive

Photo: kenji ross/Flickr

A rubberneck-inducing landmark of Tacoma, Washington’s Nalley Valley since 1927 when it opened as the Coffee Pot Restaurant, Bob’s Java Jive is an enduring example of mimetic architecture as, once upon a time, coffee did indeed flow freely within the confines of the 25-foot-tall concrete coffee pot.

Not so much in recent decades. Reborn as Bob’s Java Jive in 1955, the building has been a Polynesian-themed rock club, pool hall, speakeasy, juke joint, go-go-bar and home to a pair of macaque monkeys. Nowadays, Bob’s is a comfortably grungy dive bar that just happens to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Remarks owner Danette Staatz: “You’re either a snoot or you’re going to walk in and hate it, but it’s so different that most people love it. It’s like its own entity. It wraps it arms around you when you walk in, and it loves you.”

Despite Bob’s loving embrace, Staatz does admit that slinging PBR in a giant coffee pot isn’t easy, even with its ties to Northwest rock history (yes, alt-country crooner Neko Case did indeed tend bar here although that early Nirvana gig is an urban myth): "The coffee pot is our biggest deficit because people don’t go in a coffee pot to party. It gives a false impression. But when people do come in, they come back."

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Big Apple

Photo: stephen boisvert/Flickr

If the website belonging to Northumberland County's top roadside attraction fails to catch your attention, than nothing will. It’s some kind of masterpiece.

That said, the 35-foot-tall anthropomorphic apple — Mr. Applehead is the prodigious pomme’s formal name — looming over Ontario Highway 401 in Canada has been catching the attention of motorists for more than three decades. Sure, a massive fiberglass apple (the world’s largest, reputedly) with a newly painted-on smile and topped with an observation deck qualifies as super-kitsch, a monument to unabashed tourist trapper-y. And that’s what makes the Big Apple so great — and very much worth a stop for a photo opp and slice of — and/or entire — homemade apple pie. Founded in the 1980s by George Boycott, a native Australian who wanted to bring his homeland’s fine tradition of roadside novelty architecture to rural Ontario, the recently revamped complex is also home to a petting zoo, shuffleboard court, mini-golf course and a herd of wild bunnies.

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Clam Box

Photo: Ed/Flickr

Because dining inside of a house-size bivalve can be a somewhat terrifying prospect (although not completely implausible), one of the North Shore of Massachusetts’ most beloved — and impossible to miss — roadside seafood shacks offer the next best thing: dining inside of a massive, open-top takeout container customarily used to serve bivalves of the deep-fried variety.

Built in 1938, the landmark Clam Boxof Ipswich, is a most scrumptious example of programmatic architecture and, obviously, a primo destination for fried seafood: scallops, oysters, shrimp, squid, haddock and, of course, Ipswich’s famed native soft-shell clam. A no-frills BYOB joint that’s also known to serve up a mean lobster roll, all that’s missing at the Clam Box is a six-foot-tall lemon wedge and a Paul Bunyan-appropriate moist towelette in the parking lot.

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Coney Island Hot Dog Stand

Photo: chi_cowboy/Flickr

The country’s preeminent work of wiener-and-bun architecture is also a giant misnomer as the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand is, in fact, located nowhere near Brooklyn’s famed boardwalk. The 18-ton, mustard-slathered structure in question can be found more than 1,800 miles away in the tiny Rocky Mountain community of Bailey, Colorado.

For a building designed to resemble a piece of bread-wrapped encased meat, the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand sure has gotten around. Built in 1966 in Denver as an architectural homage to the East Coast’s hot dog heavyweight, the building — long and narrow, it’s a proper 50s-style diner, really, just all dressed up with condiments — was moved to the sleepy mountain town of Aspen Park in 1970 where it was a popular roadside fixture along Highway 285. Threatened with demolition, the extra-large sausage relocated in 2006 to its current creek-side spot in Bailey. The biggest wiener in the Rockies changed hands, but not locations, again in 2011.

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Dunmore Pineapple

Photo: giannandrea/Wikimedia Commons

While less literal and centuries older than the other comestible-resembling buildings on our list, Scotland’s exceedingly eccentric Dunmore Pineapple, while not a true example of programmatic architecture, is a textbook example of a folly — that is, a kooky, beloved-in-Britain building that serves no real functional purpose other than to draw attention.

And draw attention the Dunmore Pineapple does. Erected in 1761 as the summer home of John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, the majority of this Palladian-style structure is rather conservative. But when Murray returned to Scotland from a stint as colonial governor of Virginia in 1777, things took a turn for the fruity as a pavilion complete with ornate, pineapple-shaped cupola was added atop the existing building. At the time, decorative pineapple motifs were a popular symbol of hospitality — Murray was just taking things up an exuberant notch. Described by The Landmark Trust as a “... work of undoubted genius, built of the very finest masonry,” the Dunmore Pineapple, in all its beautifully persevered bromeliadian glory, is now a vacation rental. Rates start at £230 (about $365) for a four-night stay, and, true to Landmark Trust-owned properties, the accommodations are both classy and historically correct. This means no TVs, no Wi-Fi and certainly no SpongeBob SquarePants bed linens.

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The Donut Hole

Photo: George Cummings/Wikimedia Commons

While Randy’s Donuts — you know, that super-famous L.A. bakery with that really big doughnut on the roof — gets all the pop culture cred, it’s at another Southern California doughnut joint where massive deep-friend dough rings (fiberglass, in actuality) serve a structural purpose. These delightful colossal confections don’t just function as traffic-snaring signage — they’re a part of the actual building.

In fact, the whole reason to visit the Donut Hole in La Puente is to drive through the twin doughnuts (chocolate glazed?) that bookend this split-in-half-by-a-drive-through-lane bakery that dates back to 1968. Motorists enter slooowly through this 24-hour baked good mecca’s first ring as sad and doughnut-less individuals and emerge through the second ring reborn, brandishing bakery boxes filled with maple bacon bars, bear claws, crullers, apple fritters and every type of doughnut variety known to mankind. A drive through the Donut Hole is a singular Southern California experience, one that should be followed by some serious time spent at the gym.

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Gibeau Orange Julep

Photo: abdallahh/Flickr

The balmy tropical paradise known as Montreal, Quebec, is home to a noticeably large citrus fruit.

Within said fruit you’ll find Gibeau Orange Julep, a high-calorie Montreal institution that’s been serving up greasy grub (think: burgers, hot dogs, onion rings and some serious poutine) and a signature orange beverage (a frothy French Canadian variant of shopping mall staple, the Orange Julius) on Boulevard Décarie since 1966. The eatery itself, the last remaining outpost of what was once a regional fast food mini-empire, predates the three-story-tall orange fiberglass orb by over 30 years, which was built to replace a smaller orange structure. Open 24 hours during Montreal’s non-frozen months, the roller-skating waitresses are long gone but nostalgia still prevails thanks to classic car enthusiasts who congregate outside of the iconic giant orange on a weekly basis. While a local landmark, Gibeau Orange Julep is not, in fact, the world’s largest orange. That title belongs to Eli’s Orange World in Kissimmee, Florida.

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The Peach

Photo: GoToVan/Flickr

In city that proudly crowns an annual Peach Queen, you’d better believe there’s a super-tall stone fruit on prominent display in town.

Located at the foot of gorgeous Okanagan Lake, Penticton — aka Peach City, not to be confused with Peachland, a community about 30 miles up the shore that’s home to the mythical Ogopogo — takes its peach-producing heritage mighty seriously. Penticton’s lakeside Rotary Park is home to one of North America’s most spectacularly sited snack shacks. Just look at the beautiful, shapely fruit. The Peach on the Beach — or simply, the Peach, as it’s best known — functions as an impossible-to-miss concession stand and photo opp hotspot in a region of British Columbia best known for wine guzzling and outdoor recreation. Serving up basic snack bar fare, the Peach offers one local specialty that’s not to be missed: a peach-flavored “screamer," a popular-in-B.C. frozen treat that’s basically a slushie mixed with soft-serve ice cream blended in.

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Hood Milk Bottle

Photo: openroads.com/Flickr

Faneuil Hall. Bunker Hill Monument. The Old North Church. The 40-foot-tall old-timey milk bottle.

In a historical tourism hotspot jam-packed with decidedly staid landmarks, the Hood Milk Bottle has been an offbeat fixture of the Fort Point Channel waterfront district since 1977 when the 15,000-pound faux glass bottle (it’s actually made from wood) was shipped to its current home outside the Boston Children’s Museum from Taunton, Massachusetts, where it was built in 1934 by Arthur Gagner as a drive-through ice cream stand. By the mid-1960s, the colossal bottle was abandoned and subsequently stood empty for a decade until New England dairy powerhouse HP Hood purchased the structure and handed it off to the museum. Decades — and one major renovation — later, it’s still the only landmark building in Beantown with the power to induce serious chocolate chip cookie cravings in all who set eyes upon it. And, by the way, if the Hood Milk Bottle was actually filled with milk, it could hold 58,620 gallons of lactose-heavy white liquid.

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The Loaf

Photo: Joseph Novak/Flickr

In an old-school, family-run Pennsylvania amusement park that’s home to a century-old carousel, a top-notch haunted house, no less than a half-dozen roller coasters and a small army of refurbished classic thrill rides, one might assume it would be easy to overlook a building shaped like a loaf of bread.

Yet the not-so-freshly baked Loaf Building — current home to a fro-yo and cookie stand – rises proudly in the middle of Knoebels Amusement Resort, stopping pickle-on-a-stick-clutching parkgoers in their tracks as they wonder to themselves wait, is that building supposed to look like that? Judging by its name and the fact that the building has housed a bakery on and off over the years, the answer is yes. While it’s unknown how long Knoebels' much-photographed work of loaf-tecture has been in existence, the park itself — it’s located not too far from the smoldering ghost town of Centralia, a place far more spine-chilling than even the scariest amusement park log flume ride or drop tower — was established in 1926. The park is also home to a lemon-shaped lemonade stand.

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Twistee Treat

Photo: Rick Harris/Flickr

Many Floridians don’t even blink twice at the miraculous sight of humongous soft-serve ice cream cones. Those unfamiliar with the myriad joys of the Florida phenomenon known as Twistee Treat, however, are likely to veer off the road for a vanilla-strawberry swirl — or perhaps a peanut butter banana milkshake — and the requisite photo op in front of a 28-foot-tall fiberglass ice cream cone topped with LED sprinkles.

Founded in North Fort Meyers, Twistee Treat has been around since 1983 with new locations under current corporate ownership opening regularly. A handful of unmistakable modular Twistee Treat cones have even migrated outside of Florida over the years, many in the Midwest and many operating under different names such as King Kone in Perry, Michigan. If your pulse quickens at the thought of kitschy throwback architecture and soft-serve available in a ton of flavors, then Twistee Treat, be it in Orlando, Tarpon Springs or St. Pete’s, could very well be your Shangri-La.