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I scream for ice cream

Country Roads

If God had chosen me to be the first man instead of Adam, I would have never fallen for Eve’s “try it, you’ll like it” line. Naked lady or no naked lady, I would not have messed up Creation for a stupid apple or whatever fruit she was playing temptress with.

However, had Eve turned to me with a double-dip strawberry cheesecake ice cream cone (waffle cone, of course) and said, “Cool your wisdom teeth on this, big boy,” humankind would have been doomed.

Of all the taste temptations available, ice cream is my favorite. To paraphrase Will Rogers, I’ve never met an ice cream I haven’t liked.

My habit began early. On Saturday nights, Dad sometimes brought home a half-gallon of ice cream for a weekend treat. Back in those days the little freezer cubicle at the top of the old Frigidaire wouldn’t store much so we (thankfully) had to eat the entire half gallon in one or two sittings.

By the time I was old enough for a newspaper route, I was hooked. Beatty’s Dairy on Main Street in Jewell served up an enormous soft-serve cone for just a dime. While waiting for the afternoon newspapers to arrive, I frequently enjoyed one of those 10-cent ice cream cones. That, and the fresh five-cent glazed donuts from Champion’s Bakery, explains why I never seemed to have much money from the newspaper route and why no one ever nicknamed me “Skinny.”

The habit continued to the point of addiction that afflicts me to this day. To me, ice cream on the dessert menu makes a good meal a great meal and a so-so meal a good meal. Some folks prefer a slice of pie after a meal but I don’t consider pie a dessert. Pie is pie. Pie ala mode, however, is a dessert. Pie without ice cream is like mashed potatoes without gravy.

Back in the 1990s I made frequent business trips to Illinois with a colleague who enjoys ice cream as much as I do. We knew the best ice cream places along I-80 from Des Moines to the Quad Cities.

In the early 2000s another job had me traveling the entire state and on my travels I discovered good ice cream places all over Iowa.

Years ago our family spent nearly an hour one night searching for a Haagen Dazs ice cream store in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza district. My addicted mind told me that I had seen a Haagen Dazs store there on a previous visit. Alas, the search was unsuccessful.

Those of us who relish ice cream can thank Marco Polo for introducing the frozen delicacy to Western civilization. He reportedly returned from the Far East in 1295 with a recipe for something that apparently resembled sherbet.

It is believed that in the early part of the 16th century the recipe was refined when Italian cooks added milk, creating ice cream.

I love Italy! Any country that gives the world Sophia Loren, pizza and ice cream is all right by me!

Ice cream addicts can be proud of America’s ice cream heritage. According to an article I read some time ago, George Washington was served ice cream by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton at a dinner at her place in 1789. He liked it so much he installed what he called “a cream machine for making ice” back at Mount Vernon.

I wonder if George ever made cherry nut ice cream?

We ice cream aficionados can also take pride in a great female American ice cream hero ̶ Nancy Johnson of New Jersey. She is reported to have invented the hand-operated ice cream freezer in 1845. Bless her heart!

Homemade, hand-packed, in a carton or pail, soft serve, frozen yogurt, frozen custard, vanilla, chocolate, maple nut ̶ it’s all good. And since it’s dairy ̶ one of the basic food groups ̶ I consider ice cream health food.

Meanwhile, back in the Garden of Eden, imagine the problems that ice cream would have caused. Knowing what ice cream can do to the body, I can imagine Eve scolding, “For pity’s sake, Adam, you’re going to have to cut down on all that ice cream. Do you realize how many leaves it takes to cover your backside these days? Leaves don’t grow on trees, you know!”

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