When I was little, my dad insisted that we get the ice cream with the vanilla bean specks. Then, we’d put Hershey’s syrup on it and call it “mud on snow” (looking back, it doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, but I liked it at the time). My dad was a purist — only vanilla ice cream, ever, and then he’d add toppings (usually chocolate syrup). Sometimes, I’d put peanuts on my ice cream; I think I got that from my mom (salty-sweet is a great combination). I’d then add malt powder and mix everything together like a spoonable, slightly chunky shake (well, malt). Very yummy.
Aside from being delicious, ice cream brings back all kinds of memories. A little like cookies, I suppose — it’s so ubiquitous, and yet there are so many distinct types, and maybe that’s why it ends up in so many memories. Sometimes it’s just memories of a childhood pattern, like having chocolate ice cream or Snickers ice cream bars at my paternal grandparents’ house in up in Hibbing. Sometimes it’s a specific moment in time, like the time I was at the University of Madison in Wisconsin in eighth grade (I was performing there for some event with other members of my traditional Korean dance group, ChangMi). We got ice cream cones at the student union building, a few floors down from where we were staying. It was a huge amount of ice cream, and we felt so cool because we were on a college campus.
When I was in Korea for the first time, way back in eighth grade, I had chocolate Haagen-Dazs in little mini cups from a tiny corner store. I bought ice cream from a vending machine the first time I went to Japan. The last time I was in Korea, I went to various Baskin-Robbins in Seoul about five times with my friends (over the ten-day span of our trip) — I loved the mango sorbet.
I also love super-premium ice creams. Ben & Jerry’s is particularly good. My favorite flavours have changed over the years — at my high school graduation, I had Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz (we had Cossetta’s and a cart from Ben & Jerry’s), and it was amazing, although I haven’t been able to find it since. Coffee Heath was a favorite, then Cookie Dough (oldie but goodie), then Half Baked (chocolate and vanilla ice cream, cookie dough, and fudge brownies — I have a pint in my freezer now, actually). My most recent favorite is Peach Cobbler, which I first discovered at Uncommon Grounds, the cafe at my college.
I loved Dairy Queen when I was little — there was just something about those Reese’s peanut butter cup Blizzards (my dad was an enormously huge fan of those; we’d get them at a Dairy Queen in Hibbing when we visited my paternal grandparents, and we’d sit on the grass and eat them). And when I was very little, I once walked up to the Dairy Queen by my elementary school with my Girl Scout troop for a Dilly bar. My brother worked at Culver’s a while ago, and since then, the Culver’s concrete has completely supplanted the Blizzard in my heart — the ice cream (“custard”) is so much creamier . . . and texture is typically more important to me than flavor. The ice cream machine in Erdman (one of the dining halls in Bryn Mawr) had amazing ice cream — I still miss it.
At the end of my senior year in high school, a Cold Stone Creamery came to the little shopping center called “The Village,” about two miles away from my high school. I think I went with friends three separate times between the time that theatre ended and senior year ended (I don’t think there was more than a week or so between the two). Great times (and great ice cream).