Ice Cream to Get High
on Cones and Toppings
Coney Island old timers like to say it all started in the New York neighborhood, along with hot-dogs and saltwater Taffy. It used to be called frozen custard, then. For Wikipedia, though, it was a bit earlier, circa 400 BCE. Truth is, even as recently as a few years ago, few could’ve imagined the summer treat as a year-round delight, or as a cure for pain, or an excuse for self immolation.
Certainly not us, so crazy about the stuff that even a little brain freeze can’t hurt us. Heard the one about a man and his 900 varieties of ice cream? Check. Ben & Jerry’s graveyard for discarded flavors? Check. And guess what those guys, who sold breast-milk ice cream last year, are up to now: Holy water with absinthe, shaped as a frozen James Bond pistol, that’s what.
It must be the sugar rush. But there’s something so enticing in a dollop of colorful melting cream, with its crispy cones and hot chocolate toppings that drives grown people to cry like school children, if heaven forbids, they drop it on the sidewalk. Some actually stared at it for a minute too long, considering whether to scoop it out and pretend the five-second rule is silly.
Like the man with the red cape, if one could see through walls at any given night in the city, how many lonely hearts would be spotted watching TV in bed and eating a pint of Dulce de Leche? Whether low-fat or ‘organic,’ plain Vanilla or Mr. Softee, there’s something about the stuff that no frozen yogurt will ever come close.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT
Because it’s an addiction, buzz-kill scientists say. In an Oregon Research Institute study, they scanned volunteers’ brains using magnetic resonance while they watched pictures of milkshakes. The results showed that their responses were comparable to those of drug addicts, when craving for a fix. It all related to levels of dopamine, the natural feel-good chemical produced by the brain.
Because it may cure migraines, according to Harvard Professor Jorge Serrador. The momentary pain of a ‘brain freeze,’ caused after eating ice cream too fast, for example, is due to a sudden increase in blood flow to the brain’s anterior cerebral artery. Once the flow recedes, the pain goes away. Understanding this may lead to a treatment of the mother of all headaches. Want chips with that?
Because it may also make us go insane, as it happened recently to an Indian woman. After her husband criticized her for feeding ice cream to their children, she got so mad that she got some kerosene and set herself on fire. She died of her injuries and now her family filed a lawsuit against her husband, who they accuse for her death. Children, finish your pints and go to bed.
THE 900-FLAVOR MAN
Perhaps she should have served them macaroni-and-cheese ice cream. We bet should would if she’d only heard of Portugal-born Manuel da Silva Oliveira, whose shop in Venezuela is on the Guinness Book of Records, and not only for having a Guinness beer-flavored ice cream, but for the other 800-plus-and-counting flavors.
Avocado, onion, chili, mushrooms, wine and even garlic are some of the concoctions that Oliveira, who doesn’t even tend the Heladeria Coromoto anymore, came up with. At any given day, these may be among the 60 flavors offered, along with egg, sardines-in-brandy and black bean-flavored ice creams. More like a plain vanilla type of person? No problem, he has that one too.
Pabellon Criollo, the ever popular house special, is modeled after the traditional Venezuelan meal of beef, rice, plantain, cheese and black beans. And some of the names are quite amusing too, such as the ‘British Airways’ and the ‘I’m Sorry Darling’ flavors. But there’s one special that may explain his increasing absences from the shop: the blue, honey and pollen-infused ‘Viagra Hope.’
THE FLAVOR GRAVEYARD
If for some, ice cream is heaven, there must be a place where all flavors go after they die, right? Well, avowed agnostics Ben & Jerry have found the perfect spot: the company’s backlot in Vermont. That’s where each discontinued flavor, however tasty, organic or politically correct it may have been, has been laid down to rest in peace, for its sales sucked, we mean, people didn’t particularly care for them.
What the Ben & Jerry graveyard shows is that, at one point or another, they did care for each and everyone of them, sometimes even dedicating an elegiac poem to it. ‘With aching heart and heavy sigh, we bid Rainforest Crunch goodbye; that nutty brittle from exotic places got sticky in between our braces. 1989-1996. It was a really, really good flavor.‘
Oh Pear (1997), Makin’ Whoopie Pie (2002-2003), and Urban Jumble (2000-2001), all bygone favorites, are resting in the graveyard. So is the Wild Maine Blueberry and the not-so-popular Sugar Plum. The graveyard in itself, though, is already a feature of Waterbury touristic guides, attracting mourners who come to pay their respects with flowers and, at times, even kneeling down to pray.
You may do that, or you may fill an online petition, asking Ben & Jerry to ‘resurrect‘ a flavor that struck a chord in your taste buds. Think a zombie version of Sugar Plum, for example. We tend to be partial to the brand the two sweet sages of Vermont, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, created and sold: it’s the only one to consistently give away samples and we love free stuff.
HOLY WATER PISTOL
Matt O’Connor’s Icecreamists parlor in London has courted notoriety and scandal before, when it created Baby Gaga, the ice cream made of human breast milk. It was trendy, it’s was expensive and it drove some prudes across the pond completely nuts. Boy, is O’Connor willing to top himself this year, isn’t he? By the likes of it, one has a pretty good idea who he’s about to irk to no end this time.
We can’t wait to taste Icecreamists’ latest concoction: the gun-shaped Vice Lolly, made from holy water ‘from a sacred spring in Lourdes, France,’ 80% proof alcohol absinthe and sugar. Sorry, kids, this one you may have to wait way longer than your folks. To make sure the loaded, titillating content wouldn’t be missed by anyone, they’re also ushering the flavor to the market with a provocative ad campaign.
A model, in full nun regalia, mellifluously licks her lips and then the lime-green pistol-shaped treat, and, well, you got the idea. Nothing seems to have been left to half measures or shy suggestion; everything about the Vice Lolly is aggressive designed to instill a reaction in ice-cream lovers and church goers of all stripes. Whether the latter will take the bait and lead rallies in front of the company HQs, is many a marketer wet dream of free advertising and boost to sales.
Again, the shot at conservatism may be a cheap one, but the price is definitely not, at about $28 a pop. It also helps that’s being sold at the fashionista-haven of Covent Garden, a place where the claim that the ice cream is made with holy water imported from France’s Grotto of Massabiele may be just its most strident sales pitch. And it may be taken as such.
Its potential clientele, though, may be more acquainted with absinthe than with the Catholic pilgrimage mecca of Lourdes. Not because it was the drug of choice of many a literary and artistic genius of the 18th century Paris, though. More likely, the drink’s glitzy reintroduction to club goers after its ban was lifted in the 1990s, is what may drive by familiarity demand for the new flavor now.
Still, it’s all just ice cream. Fancy or bland, it’s the chill sweet combination that’s sometimes irreplaceable. One may claim that’s natural, sugar-free, not tested on animals, good as a hit, great to nurse a heartache, or perfect to please the children. At the end of the day, though, we may just want to quiet the world down and enjoy a soft scoop of cream. We’ll have ours in bed, please.