Sunday, July 15, 2012

Today is National Ice Cream Day!!!

Pralines & Cream, yum!
Today is National Ice Cream Day. In 1984 President Ronald Reagan declared July to be National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July to be National Ice Cream Day. So let's talk about ice cream! 

When I was a kid, ice cream was a luxury item. It's nt that my parents were cheap, but they grew up after their parents had experienced the Great Depression. So they tried not to waste anything, and with four kids to raise ice cream simply was not a staple on the gocery list. When it was in the house it was usually not in the house very long! (see note about four kids to raise) My father did have a sweet tooth, however. So often he would buy ice milk, which was cheaper than ice cream and very much less delicious. He would also buy ice cream flavors only he liked, such as mint chocolate chip or Neopolitan (which for some reason is the name given to the mix of vanilla-chocolate-strawberry). My siblings and I also eventually came around to this flavor: my sisters would eat the chocolate and vanilla and I would eat the strawberry.

When I was in my mid-teens BREYERS came out with their "gourmet" brand. At the time there weren't so many different choices, so we had the "house" brands (in my case Schnucks, A&P, or National) or nothing. Then when we actually (finally) tried BREYERS I thought I was in heaven. I swore off "house" brands (and ice milk!) then and there and have never gone back. Now, of course, BREYERS is one of the "cheaper" brands. But it will always have a place in my heart.

A word or two about ice cream and its relatives. Ice Milk is the term given to the dairy dessert with less than 10% milk fat with the same amount of sweeteners. Sherbet is the term for the dessert with a higher level of sweeteners than milk fat. And Sorbet is the dairy dessert with no milk fat at all. Frozen Yogurt (or Frozen Custard) uses yogurt or custard instead of milk fat.

When it got hot in the summer when we were kids there would be an ice cream truck on our street (we had a lot of families in our neighborhood). But come on, didn't you buy popsicles from them, not ice cream? My favorite was the rainbow pop or the red-white-blue pop or the green-white (Sprite/7-Up flavored) ones. Instead of those, sometimes my mother would give us money and send us to our neighborhood dairy store/ice cream parlor, VELVET FREEZE. Anybody out there remember that (local?) chain? It was about three blocks from our house, so I guess the idea was that we would get atleast a little bit of exercise in our effor to get a dessert. And my mother wouldn't have us around for awhile, so it must have been a win for her, too!  

St. Louis (where I grew up) likes to take is ice cream seriously. We have the popular story that ice cream CONES were created at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair after the ice cream vendor ran out of cups to sell hi wares; he combind with the waffle-cone vendor to create a new sensation. I don't know if this story is true or not, but it is passed down among generations in St. Louis as fact.

My parents almost never took us to DAIRY QUEEN. I think my older sisters would bring me sometimes after they started to drive. But I was in my late teens before I ever had a dipped cone or a Dilly Bar. I do remember having Mister Misties every once in a while, though. Were those from DQ? Or 7-11? I ask because notw that I visit DQ myself they don't sell them! Anyway, this was before DQ had created their Blizzards. I don't remember having one of those until I was very much an adult.

After VELVET FREEZE went out of business and when my parents were feeling very generous (haha) we would make a rare trip to the Baskins-Robbins store in town. I cherished these visits because I always got the same thing: Pralines & Cream, which is my all-time favorite ice cream flavor. When I came back from Japan and found a B&R store, I was very disappointed to find that the flavor didn't stand up to my memory of it. I haven't had one since. (It doesn't help that B&Rs are harder to find, either.)

I first came across Haagen-Daz in Japan. I thought at first that it was a European brand; I found out later that it was actually called H-D so that people would think it was European. It was my favorite ice cream (its Almond Chocolate Vanilla bar, yum!) for several years.

When I came back to the US and tried Ben & Jerry's I was converted. Now Chunky Monkey and Strawberry Cheese Cake are my favorites. And if we go to Coldstone I always get Apple Pie. Sometimes if Starbucks is on sale  will get their Coffee or Mocha flavors. VELVET is a local Ohio brand but they only make huge containers and I don't want that amount in my freezer, so I don't buy it. It is good, though.

Now excuse me, because with all of these thoughts about ice cream I'm off to have some! Hope you do,too!

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