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By Lynda Hollenbeck
You may not know this, but July is National Ice Cream Month. Other than the flag, could anything possibly be more American than ice cream?
As an ice cream zealot, I proudly take up the familiar chant of "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream."
Don't know who coined that, but it's a gem.
I'm proud there's a designated time to celebrate ice cream, but for me it never goes out of season. The mercury can dip well below the freezing mark, but I still enjoy the taste of this treat â€” summer, winner, springtime and fall.
The timing probably isn't accidental, but there's a new ice cream flavor in town and Yarnell's is the company that announced its delivery a few days ago. This is lemon icebox pie.
I haven't tasted it, but it sounds wonderful.
Of course, it would be hard for Yarnell's to best its homemade vanilla variety. To me, that's the creme de la creme of ice cream.
I was among the masses that rejoiced last year when the newly reorganized company brought back my favorite dessert.
When the Yarnell family determined it could no longer keep the company going, I felt as if I were saying goodbye to an old friend. Among the few constants in my life had been Yarnell's vanilla.
I'm sure I'll like the lemon treat, but I expect it to be akin to eating a piece of pie itself. Ice cream, for this being, comes in vanilla from a red and white container.
Granted, the carton has a new shape now â€” and I did like the familiar old one better â€” but it's what's inside that counts.
Not surprisingly, my mother, the consummate cook, made wonderful ice cream. Before the nutritionists insisted that all ice cream be cooked since it contains eggs, Mamma was doing so already.
In fact, she wouldn't allow me to eat it at certain people's houses "because Mrs. So-and-So doesn't cook her custard and it might kill you."
I never knew of anyone who died from eating that variety, but Mamma's word was law and I wasn't going to challenge it over a dish of ice cream.
Among my favorite ice cream memories is the Rose City Cumberland Presbyterian Church summer ice cream supper.
This was a competition unlike any other I've seen. Each woman would stand behind the freezer of her personal cream with a big serving spoon in hand and a "smile" plastered on her face that was the equivalent of a dare to anyone who might even think of passing by without accepting a serving.
Ed as pastor of the church felt obliged to sample every one. It was a sure-fire prescription for a stomachache, but it happened only once a year and he contended he was required to take equal portions of each woman's creation. To do otherwise would have created hard feelings, to say the least.
"Now, Brother Ed, I know you're going to like mine best," one woman clucked as the next waited her turn to offer a similar inducement.
He managed to charm every one of them somehow and, as far as I know, no one ever got her feelings hurt because of him.
There was every flavor you could think of because these women took this event seriously. It wasn't a contest, so there was no prize, but they were just as serious as if there had been a thousand-dollar purse. Each one considered her cream to be "best" and Ed could convince each one he agreed with her.
This was a test in both diplomacy and fortitude.
As the pastor's wife, I didn't feel the same obligations Ed did and would take only offerings of the vanilla. I'm really boring when it comes to ice cream choices.
I can eat fresh peach cream, which is basically just vanilla with the addition of peaches, but I just can't get too bold about this.
I remember the stir caused when the Howard Johnson restaurant came up with flavors beyond the traditional vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc.
I wasn't the least excited. I would order just plain vanilla and watch the server's face fall.
The same thing happened when Baskin-Robbins came down the pike with its multi-flavor offerings. I still chose vanilla.
It's hard to top perfection.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.