Tag Archives: Ice Cream

Food: Dairy Queen

The first Dairy Queen restaurant opened in Joliet, Illinois in 1941, shortly after the process of soft serve ice cream was invented. The chain now has more than 5,000 locations. Uploaded by s.fatwallet.com.

I apologize to those currently on a diet for the pictures in this post. Dairy Queen makes the best milkshakes of any chain I’m aware of, created a product called the Blizzard that’s probably successful beyond their wildest dreams, and has a number of food items that are probably higher in calories and fat than most of their competitors. But, if you can handle it, they taste great.

Uploaded by fastfoodaddict.wordpress.com.

DQ has been around since 1940, when it opened its first store in Joliet, Illinois. The company capitalized on a new invention – soft serve ice cream. By injecting air into the product at time of freezing, soft serve has that unique texture and flavor. Today, Dairy Queen operates more than 5,700 locations in 19 countries, though most are in the U.S. and Canada.

I submit that there’s not much better in life on a warm summer evening than making a pilgrimage to the nearest Dairy Queen for a chocolate shake, a dipped cone, or a Blizzard. No, it’s not diet-friendly food, but it’s taste bud friendly food. And that’s important, too. Here’s a funny DQ commercial:

Americana: Soda Fountains

Technically, a soda fountain is the machine that dispenses drinks at a lunch counter. But it became the common term for the local hangout that served sandwiches and ice cream treats. Uploaded by lizrollphotography.blogspot.com.

Okay, those of you under 30 bear with me for a few moments. Long, long ago, before a Walgreens or CVS occupied every corner, communities embraced local drug stores. Besides dispensing prescriptions, they mostly sold over-the-counter remedies, along with a few extra items like writing supplies and batteries. But during their golden age, they also had a lunch counter that served sandwiches and ice cream treats. That section was called the soda fountain.

Uploaded by philadelphia.about.com.

Technically, a “soda fountain” is just the machine that dispensed drinks. But that became the generic name for the whole lunch counter. One of the main drinks that you don’t find much anymore was an ice cream soda, served with a mixture of chocolate syrup and carbonated water. And the guy behind the counter (seems like it was almost always a guy) was known as a soda jerk. Chances are tunes played on a juke box played in the corner, or maybe from a mini player on the counter.

I remember the counter at my drug store in the Stuart Gardens section of Newport News, Va. They’d make the absolute best chocolate milk shakes in one of those metal decanters; they’d fill your glass and leave the rest for you, too. No one’s quite sure what killed the soda fountain. Maybe it was the mega pharmacy, or maybe the deterioration of neighborhoods. Like drive-in theaters, a few of them still exist…and should be treasured as an irreplaceable part of American culture.

Food: Apple Pie a la mode


To me, the best apple pie has a flaky crust, soft apples, and a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream. Uploaded to Flickr by photographer S.C. Asher.

On this, the second birthday of Great American Things, it’s time to ask this question: How did it take me two years to get around to featuring apple pie, the dessert that finishes the eternal phrase “As American as…”

Photo uploaded to Flickr by photographer xetark.

My wife makes a terrific apple pie. I hope you know someone who makes one like hers that makes your mouth water. And there’s only one thing that can make a great apple pie even better — and that’s a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream. No, not cinnamon ice cream. Don’t go making this some kind of fancy-schmancy dessert. It needs to be simple. Warm pie, cold ice cream. Maybe a glass of milk.

There are variations on apple pies; some people like cheese on them (never understood that), some like raisins (freaks). What you don’t want, is what I saw on a recipe at allrecipes.com. It started, “Tired of ordinary old apple pie?” NO! I’M NOT! And if it’s prepared right (cook those apples so they’re soft, people) I NEVER WILL BE!

Food: Banana Splits

It wouldn't be easy to eat this all by yourself. Not easy, but worth it. Uploaded by micuisine.com.

It wouldn't be easy to eat this all by yourself. Not easy, but worth it. Uploaded by micuisine.com.

For a small town (2000 population: 7,634), Latrobe, Pennsylvania has a lot to brag about. It’s the original hometown of Rolling Rock beer. It was the hometown of golf legend Arnold Palmer and TV legend Mr. Rogers. And if that doesn’t do it for you, it’s also the town where the banana split was born. Now we’re talking.

It was created by one David Strickler, an apprentice pharmacist who worked in the Tassel Pharmacy’s soda shop. He loved inventing sundaes, and in 1904 he created one with three scoops of ice cream and a halved banana. It sold for the outrageous price of ten cents, and it was a hit with the students at the town’s St. Vincent College.

Uploaded to Flickr by Richard-o

Uploaded to Flickr by Richard-o

As you might expect, there are other jealous towns that said, “We did it first.” Boston, but they had one problem – they didn’t peel the banana! And Wilmington, Ohio – but they weren’t even original enough to be the first town named Wilmington, so they’re obviously copycats. No, Latrobe has been certified as the birthplace of the banana split by no less an authority than the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. And when NICRA speaks, they give the authentic scoop. “Scoop,” oh man, I crack myself up.

Supposedly, Walgreens helped make the banana split a national phenomenon by offering it as a feature dessert at its soda fountains. Let’s all take a moment and mourn the loss of the drug store fountain, a wonderful piece of Americana that today’s mega-pharmacies will never replace.

Split a banana lengthwise in a “boat” dish. Add one scoop of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream. Top with pineapple or butterscotch (on the vanilla), chocolate syrup (on the chocolate), and strawberry topping (on the strawberry). Add nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry.

Oh, baby.

Food: Jamoca Almond Fudge

Good in a cup, great in a cone. Uploaded to Flickr by sea turtle.

Good in a cup, great in a cone. Uploaded to Flickr by sea turtle.

What could be better on a 90-degree August day than ice cream? And what ice cream could be better than the unbelievably good Jamoca Almond Fudge from Baskin-Robbins?

It’s Jamoca ice cream with ribbons of chocolate fudge and roasted almonds. In an age of literal “flavors of the month,” JAF has been a staple on the Baskin-Robbins menu since 1959. In fact, it’s said to have been the favorite flavor of company founder Irvine Robbins.

Must...have...a cone. Uploaded by baskinrobbins.com.

Must...have...a cone. Uploaded by baskinrobbins.com.

With this coffee-flavored ice cream, the company seems to have foreseen the mania that’s swept the country. The unusual thing for me is that although I do love coffee, I never liked coffee ice cream – still don’t. But add the chocolate, the almonds, and the sugar cone, and oh, baby. And this flavor is best enjoyed with a cone, not in a cup. The crunch of the cone complements the crunch of the nuts and completes the experience.

If there’s not a Baskin-Robbins close by, Dreyer’s/Edy’s makes a respectable imitation called Mocha Almond Fudge. And the Chocolate Gourmand even has a great blog post about making your own homemade version. He said this was his favorite flavor growing up “because it was like a portable coffee and chocolate sundae, with the fudge and nuts neatly packed inside.”

Today’s video: A really cute Baskin-Robbins commercial:

(Jamoca is a trademark of Baskin-Robbins, that I’d have used the symbol for if I could figure out how to do it.)

Food: Wendy’s Frosty

Must...resist...must...resist... Uploaded by didntyouhear.com.

Must...resist...must...resist... Uploaded by didntyouhear.com.

Well, let’s be specific: chocolate Frosty. It’s not ice cream. And it’s not a milkshake. So what is it, exactly?

It’s a cold, delicious diet killer is what it is.

Yes, a spoon. Not a straw. Uploaded to Flickr by Alana Elliott.

Yes, a spoon. Not a straw. Uploaded to Flickr by Alana Elliott.

When you buy a Frosty at the drive-thru window (not that I have any personal experience of this, but people talk), they give you a spoon and a straw. A straw. Wendy’s, I love you, but this is a foolish denial of a basic law of physics. I’m not smart enough to know which law, but it has something to do with viscosity, I think.

May I digress a moment and say that you should be able to drink a milkshake? It should be moderately thick, but be able to pass through a straw. It pains me that I even have to write such things, you’d think that the Milkshake Council of America would have set standards by now. Or that Congress, eager as it is to micromanage our lives, would have set up a Federal Iced Drink Commission. (Then restaurants would have to say “Member FIDC”.) Anyway, back to the Frosty.

Looking at the Frosty’s nutritional information reveals that each serving provides all of 8% of the DV of Vitamin A, and an amazing 15% of calcium. Now, that’s what I call nutritious goodness! (I think the calories and stuff were there too, but clearly they pale in significance to all those vitamins.) Not only…Oh, shoot, I’d like to write more, but I have to go get a Frosty.