After dropping our boat off at its second home— the repair shop for the rest of the year, my wife Diane and I stopped at a roadside drive-in, where she had some birthday cake ice cream (which apparently is vanilla with blue and white icing mixed into it) and I made my customary mistake of getting a very messy foot-long chili cheese dog. She didn’t care much for the flavor, but I was envious— I could smell sugar. In recent years I’ve become partial to sugar-free pumpkin frozen yoghurt, but you seldom see it around until Harvest Homecoming time.
Ever since we moved here, I have been impressed by how much Hoosiers like their ice cream.Indiana is the nation’s second largest producer, followin gCalifornia and about 9% of all the milk produced is used for ice cream. Seasonal ice cream places, like Zestos and Polly’s Freeze, always have long lines and Dairy Queens seem to do a brisk year-round business.
I grew up near St. Louis and my father never told me that the St. Louis produced almost two dozen Nobel Prize winners, But being a man with his priorities straight, he must have told me a thousand times that the ice cream cone was invented there in 1904 at the World’s Fair.
As a kid I was crazy about ice cream, until I was about seven years old. That’s when my older brother,Norman, asked me if I knew why the ice cream cones at Baxter’s Confectionary (my favorite place) tasted so good. I admitted I didn’t know and Norman proceeded to tell me in graphic detail how crotchety old man Baxter, who constantly smoked a pipe, drooled on every cone, as he made them. Although I closely observed the suspect Mr. Baxter I personally never witnessed any such act. Just the same, that image put me off ice cream until I graduated from college, when inexplicably I started smoking a pipe. It’s funny how a mental picture can have such an impact in your life, even if it’s not true.
Norman’s vivid stories of food atrocities also convinced me not to eat, eggs, mustard, andClarkbars throughout most of my childhood. There are also several brands of soft drinks I still won’t touch, because of the fellow who fell into the vat at the bottling plant and drowned and then the acid in the soda – well you get the picture. Today urban legends on the internet have picked up where Norman left off. For example chocolate milk was ruined for me when I read a bogus report that claimed that they make chocolate milk out of milk that has been tainted with blood and appears pink.
Surveys show that 91% of adults and 98% of children enjoy ice-cream. However, as a youngster, Diane was notorious in her family for actually disliking ice-cream. Such a thing was simply unheard of in Wisconsin. To add to the irony, she comes from Two Rivers which is one of the claimants for being the “home of ice cream sundae”. Diane never cared much for cheese either– another “Dairy State” blasphemy. They must have thought she was from the planet Remulak. She eventually had to leave the state.
But I suppose Diane came by her dairy mutiny, legitimately. When the Wisconsin legislature banned the sale of oleomargarine, her father would drive to Michiganjust to buy it, instead of butter. And instead of wholesome natural Wisconsin cheddar, her mother preferred to serve Velveeta— which according to dubious Wisconsinlore was swept up from the leftovers on the floor, after they made the real cheese.
I remember when the first ice cream trucks came to our neighborhood. Children have a special radar and can hear that ice cream truck music ten miles away. Some kids followed those trucks around on their bikes all day. They were like remora attached to sharks. They were the same ones who would trail the city jeep, when it sprayed the alleys for mosquitoes. I think they got a little intoxicated from inhaling that white cloud of insecticide and were addicted. I’m not sure which had the most negative heath effects, consuming the chemically saturated artificial ice cream or breathing all that toxic bug killer.
Over 20% of Americans admit to binging on ice cream in the middle of the night and about 10% say they actually lick the bowl clean. Once we were shoveling ice cream into our eighteen-month old granddaughter, when suddenly she balled up her little fists and pressed them against her temples. This was the youngest example of an “ice cream headache”, I‘ve witnessed and we all felt a little guilty.
There is a nerve center in the back of the mouth and when it’s rapidly cooled the blood vessels constrict, causing pain receptors to overload and refer the discomfort to the head. Sort of like a governor on a motor, that won’t allow it to run faster than a designated speed, this mechanism punishes us, if we get greedy and eat our ice-cream too fast. I don’t know why they don’t teach this in school, but scientists claim that you relieve “brain freeze” by rubbing your tongue or sucking hard on the roof of your mouth to warm it up.
About one in twenty people report they share their ice cream with pets and I’ve noticed that many stores sell frozen novelties designed for animals. They look pretty tasty, but in this economy, do dogs really need ice-cream sandwiches?
But we love our pets and nothing symbolizes indulgence better than ice-cream. Like pie alamode, it’s that extra treat, literally on top of another treat. We recently took our grandchildren to the Newport Aquarium, which they found somewhat entertaining, especially the gift shop, where we spent most of the time. On the way home we stopped at an ice cream shop. There were way too many flavors to choose from and the busy shopkeeper grew highly impatient and annoyed at all the indecision. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t make up my mind, they didn’t have sugar-free pumpkin or chili cheese dogs.