Life à la Mode

Reflections from a Waffle Cone Girl on a Cake Cone Budget

A friend recently asked why a picture of an ice cream cone is one of my featured photos of Facebook, launching me into a swirl of self-reflection. One day when I was but a mere child with a sparkle in my eye and those sneakers that light up when you walk, I had to get three shots at the doctor’s office. Like many children, this was a source of trauma for me, but unlike many children, my trauma was caused by the inevitable pain I would experience when the bandaid had to be ripped off and not the shot itself (everyone experiences pain in different ways). Afterwards, my mom took me to a nearby ice cream shop while I chanted LMFAO’s “Shots” from my car seat. She ordered my ice cream cone for me because at this point in my life I did not really speak except in the comfort of my own home due to extreme shyness. The ice cream cone I was handed had two scoops. My mom told the scooper how I had just gotten three shots, to which the scooper replied, “Then she should get three scoops!” I nodded in agreement. This made perfect sense. And from that day on, I have lived every aspect of my life with a “scoop for a shot” mentality.

Ice Cream Cone feat. Me, age 4

Ice cream was an essential part of my childhood that I foresee staying on my chin well into adulthood. Some of the greatest lessons of patience and disappointment were learned from the hours spent waiting for the ice cream truck that never came. On those hot summer days when your ice cream cone is melting faster than you keep up, you have no choice but to let it happen and go where life takes you.

You may recall a time when a dessert by the name of frozen yogurt threatened ice cream’s reign. We convinced ourselves we were being healthy, but then somebody woke up and realized that the overabundance of toppings we had grown accustomed to piling on was not actually that healthy. We tended to bypass the fruit section in favor of gummy worms, chocolates that resemble rocks and have questionable edibility, and those little juice ball things that look like tadpoles.

Then when the time came to weigh our frozen yogurt, we were hit with bills as high as $36 due to the heaviness of our topping choices and our inability to exercise self control. Frozen yogurt was the #1 source of credit card debt in 2013 because you weren’t allowed to dump it out when you realized you had gone too far.

Back in high school, my friends and I liked to frequent Josie’s, the local frozen yogurt shop. One day, I brought my dad to Josie’s and he asked the cashier if her name was Josie. “No. It’s a franchise,” she replied. Josie’s had a very special place in everyone’s hearts until it changed ownership and became Yogurtini. It was never quite the same even though it was exactly the same except for a slightly more upscale interior design.

Frozen yogurt’s popularity was largely due to the catchy abbreviation “fro yo.” Human beings are suckers for a good rhyme, but that never lasts. Frozen yogurt’s 15 seconds of fame are over now, and ice cream, the most timeless of classics, is here to stay.

If you’re thinking, what’s your flavor, tell me what’s your flavor, I will tell you that I don’t like to be nailed down to a flavor but if I had to pick one I would probably say mint chocolate chip. I enjoy soft-serve, hard-serve, Cold Stone, Hot Stone, slow-churned, rapidly-churned, rocky road, smooth road, vanilla, chocolate, and neapolitan. Best ice cream I’ve ever had: Holstein at MooThru.

Ice cream is that friend who is always there for you in good times and bad. It’s a social dessert and an antisocial dessert. When you are with friends, you can each get a cone and say “cheers” and toast with your ice creams and leave a little bit of peanut butter on your friend’s strawberry scoop as long as your friend is not allergic to peanut butter. When you are alone, you can take your spoon and open a pint of ice cream and say, “I’ll just have half today and save the other half for tomorrow,” but then actually end up eating the entire pint in one sitting because that’s life. Think back to the greatest moments of your life. Ice cream was probably there for them, because ice cream is always there. Without it, there would be no sundaes, maybe no Saturdays, and definitely no sprinkles.

When you wish upon a star or upon an 11:11 — whichever is more convenient — make a simple wish along the same lines as world peace. Wish to one day be able to treat everyone you love to an ice cream cone. Let them each get two scoops and those special waffles cones with the sprinkles on them that are really ritzy. Why? Because ice cream is the greatest dessert of all time.

One night this past summer, I was at Milwaukee Frozen Custard paying for my ice cream cone and also trying to juggle it at the same time. Without saying anything, the cashier reached over and put my card back in my wallet for me. If that is not customer service, then I don’t know what is. Call it custard, call it gelato, call it what you will — ice cream is a universal language, a common bond, and a way of life.