There’s nothing better on a hot day than ice cream. A cone, dish, bar, or shake – it’s all yummy.
From an early age, nothing came between me and a chocolate ice cream cone, as you can see by this photo of me at 3, which Mom labeled, “a good ice cream cone.” She obviously found my spattered self hilarious, but my furrowed brow doesn’t exactly bespeak enjoyment. I wonder what I was thinking. Perhaps I was deliberating the complexity of the chocolate – “Hmm, possibly Forastero, with a touch of Criollo, infused with notes of Tahitian vanilla.” Or maybe I was just ticked at her cute photo op interrupting my exquisite pleasure.
I sure hope Mom had a good stain remover. But I can proudly say that my aim has improved, and that I now apply ice cream to my hips directly through my mouth.
And chocolate remains my favorite to this day.
When I was a kid, our drugstore had an ice cream counter right next to the candy counter. Talk about nirvana. Sometimes Mom would treat us to one-scoop nickel cones. If she was feeling really expansive, she’d shell out for a sugar cone (a device that inevitably drains through the bottom hole, but who cares) and then we’d head home in our rolling oven, madly licking to keep ahead of our melting ice cream. “Eat fast kids,” she’d say.
The ice cream truck’s siren song floating through the neighborhood set me to slavering like Pavlov’s dog, hopeful of an extra-special goodie. When Mom would spring for it, I’d hop barefoot on hot asphalt while choosing something exotic, like an ice cream sandwich or a Drumstick.
Though sundaes are too rich for me, I have to hand it to my teeny, 96-pound, ice cream-fanatic stepmother, who, after a full restaurant dinner, would polish off a gooey goblet sundae almost as big as her head. It was both stunning and kind of nauseating. Gosh, why didn’t my parents pass down that kind of metabolism?
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease and went gluten-free in 2003, I had to give up cones. Dang. I just loved sugar cones and, regrettably, had never even splurged on a waffle cone. But I accepted it, and ever since, when Richard and I hit Dairy Queen, he gets a cone and I get a dish. Sometimes I bring Hershey Syrup along to amp up the chocolate value, but I’ve envied him the cone as I listen to him crunch.
A couple of weeks ago I bought some delicious gluten-free sugar cones and have been going a bit ice-cream-cone crazy, licking round and round, enjoying the textures, and feeling like a kid again. At last I can wave a cool ice cream torch like mainstream America.
And America does love ice cream, regular and dairy-free. According to one source, we eat 1,650 million gallons of it per year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776, do you? Can’t you see our forefathers fortifying themselves with a few creamy scoops before hammering out the Declaration of Independence? Kind of brings new meaning to the expression, “let cooler heads prevail,” doesn’t it.
In 1984 President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.
That’s Sunday, folks.
I expect all of you to do your patriotic duty and scarf a quart of premium. I know I’m willing to sacrifice my pants size for my country.