Each spring, when it's time for Best of Treasure Valley voting to begin, I imagine pyrotechnics, a roaring crowd and that famous introduction to concerts by the timeless rock band Kiss: "You wanted the BEST, and you got the best!"
The hottest survey celebrating the coolest place in the world! BEST OF TREASURE VALLEY!
The polls are open. Take a moment, join tons of other Idahoans and vote for your favorite things about Boise's arts, entertainment, food, shopping, outdoors, sports and things to do. We'll publish a special section highlighting the results in early June.
Before you roll your eyes about my infinitely clever Kiss/Best of Treasure Valley word association, hear me out. Much like the self-proclaimed "hottest band in the world," there's something undeniably entertaining about the Statesman's annual readers poll.
The Best of Treasure Valley hasn't been around as long as Kiss, but it's undeniably classic. This is the 25th anniversary of the survey.
It was called the Best of Boise when it debuted in 1988. Then the region's population exploded. Statesman editors realized that surrounding cities such as Eagle, Nampa, Meridian, Caldwell and Mountain Home had plenty to offer, too.
To Idaho natives, the Valley probably feels like it's changed dramatically in the last quarter-century. And, man, it has. But not so much.
After disappearing deep into the Statesman's newspaper archives wearing a miner's headlamp, I emerged swearing and emptyhanded. But resourceful newsroom clerk Pat Carson excavated a yellowed tear sheet with results from the third readers survey, published in 1990. (Don't ask us where the first two years are. A mouse's bed?)
The headline from that artifact of the President George Herbert Walker Bush era: "We like the mall, TCBY, Dee Sarton, the Greenbelt."
Boise Towne Square had recently opened. This news was so earth-shaking that it warranted its own Best Food in the mall category. The Gyros Shop won.
The Bon Marche "was king of the survey, sweeping four categories."
Boise's Best Local Band? Gib Hochstrasser. That swingin' dude earned more than twice as many votes as runner-up The Club.
Best Architectural Nightmare? Capitol Terrace parking garage. Geez, after enduring the Boise Hole, that thing now seems like the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Flying Pie Pizzeria had not established its dominance for Best Pizza yet. It took second to Noodles, which also topped Best Italian.
Oh, and Boise's Best French Fries in 1990? You guessed it: McDonald's. We've definitely made progress since then in the "potato state."
Studying that old survey inspired me to revive a category: Best Idaho Campground. (It was Redfish Lake.) We also brought back Best Downtown Store. (The Bon Marche certainly won't win nowadays.)
You'll also notice a totally fresh category or two. Best New Business was inspired partly by Boise's infatuation with big-name chains coming to town. (When does Trader Joe's open again?)
Which brings me back to my debate-ready Kiss/Best of Treasure Valley argument.
Like Kiss, Best of Treasure Valley was tailormade for the masses. The poll received nearly 190,000 votes last year. Sure, you may scratch your head occasionally at winners. Smug indie types might even find the entire idea of the survey a little cheesy.
Cheesy or not, Kiss rocks. And when a modest, local business gets more reader votes than a corporate behemoth, the Statesman's readers poll feels the same way. (Will The Flicks win Best Movie Theater for the fourth straight year? I'd bet on it.)
It's one of the cool things not just about Best of Treasure Valley, but about the Boise area itself.
Boiseans aren't so hyper-local that we're ashamed to be excited about a chain like Whole Foods opening here. We're also not so commercially homogenized that we fail to love and support the unique, amazing aspects of Treasure Valley living.
You wanted the best, and you got the best.
Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM "The River" and appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News.