Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thirty-two flavors and then some

“Ice cream is a social product,” says Sean Smeeton, CEO of Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, the socially conscious ice cream company I profile in my latest Food for Thought column. “It’s easy to bring people together.”

Smeeton’s right about the inherent social quality of ice cream. Eating ice cream alone suggests sneakiness, the furtive gulping right from the pint with the freezer door open. Eating ice cream out with others is a sign of friendship, of games won, and successful first dates. It just tastes better, and really, it’s hard to be angry at anyone with a spoonful of mint chocolate chip melting on your tongue.

Eating ice cream was always an event in our family, as well as a reward for good behavior, and often a bribe. Many evenings, my father would recreate the drugstore soda fountain at home, turning Suburban root beer and Sealtest ice cream into a volcano of overflowing creamy bubbles, a kind of alchemy in gray gas station glasses. On summer nights, we would kiss tall spirals of chocolate soft serve at Berg’s Dairy in Perry Hall after a game of miniature golf across the street. And an ice cream cone from Hillcrest on Jarrettsville Pike was the only way my sister and I would tolerate the long, hot drives to “the country” a Sunday mandated. On those afternoons inside the faux wood paneled shop, Kathleen would order a scoop of chocolate with chocolate sprinkles, while I’d have black raspberry, vividly purple on an unnaturally orange-ish cake cone. We’d walk back to the parking lot, rest against the wood rail fence, watch the cows, and lick our ice cream. And when everyone had finished, we’d pile back into the car along with a newspaper wrapped gallon of peach or strawberry ice cream that somehow survived the ride home and remained solid no matter how hot it got.

As I mention in my article, I think about making ice cream throughout July and August but end up making it only once. Instead, I'll satisfy my ice cream jones at Taharka Brothers in Mt. Washington. I'll be the one licking a scoop of salty caramel.

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