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Taylor Books ties children's characters to sweet drinks

Chip Ellis
Ellie Hoblitzell, 4, sips Truffula Italian Soda, flavored with huckleberry and peach at Taylor Books. The cafe in the downtown bookstore recently added a menu of themed drinks that correspond with characters in children's books.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charlotte Hoblitzell and Evie Hilton, both 15 months old, probably didn't recognize the connection between Monkey Milk and Curious George, but they happily sipped the banana and milk drink recently at Taylor Books.

They were drinking from the Storybook Sweets menu, a selection of flavored drinks paired with children's literary characters. Benjamin Terry, 3, sat and savored Bunny Milk, a blackberry and milk concoction that should have appealed to Peter Rabbit and his siblings Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. Benjamin is especially fond of bunnies.

"It's what bunnies would drink," he said.

Taylor Books buyer and event planner Kyla Hilton came up with the idea of marrying  themed drinks and well-known storybook characters during the Seuss-A-Palooza celebration in March, which benefited Read Aloud West Virginia. She created Truffula Italian Soda, a Lorax-approved drink made with huckleberry and peach flavors for the event.

About a month ago, Hilton expanded the drink menu and added it to the Cafe at Taylor Books' regular menu. Ten percent of proceeds from the drink sales continue to benefit Read Aloud West Virginia.

"A lot of families come into the cafe with kids. We wanted something that was easy for them to order and to tie it in with children's books," Hilton said. "We partnered with Read Aloud to get more books into the hands of kids around the state."

Truffula Italian Soda's bright pink color appealed to Ellie Hoblitzell, 4, who is a fan of "The Lorax." She thought the drink was so yummy, she asked for seconds.  "Could I have another one? I think the soda's pretty," said Ellie, as she sipped while wearing her matching pink dress.

Other Storybook Sweets include Butter-beer, a drink that appears in the Harry Potter book series. Taylor offers a soda version with butterscotch and vanilla. Deluxe Hot Chocolate inspired by Charlie and Mr. Wonka from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is blended with cocoa powder, white chocolate and milk and topped with whipped cream.

Hilton might add other warm drinks this fall, like warm apple cider that tastes like the apple pie Amelia Bedelia enjoyed in "Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie."

The adult menu at The Cafe at Taylor Books includes coffees, teas, coffee drinks, smoothies and wine by the glass. Food items include Taylor Books owner Ann Saville's homemade scones and muffins, soups and salads of the day, sandwiches and salmon and cheese plates.

"We pretty much sell out every day," Hilton said.

For information about Read Aloud West Virginia, visit readaloudwestvirginia.org or call 304-345-5212. Taylor Books, 226 Capitol St., is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit taylorbooks.com or call 304-342-1461.

Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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