Judith Ann Moriarty

We all scream for it

By - Jul 4th, 2010 04:00 am
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Photos by Brian Jacobson

Fifteen months have passed since I quit puffing on cigs, specifically American Spirit, my last ditch attempt to fool myself into thinking that the “spirit of America” was within those nasty cylinders that I adored, adored, adored.

Saint Peter at the Golden Gate, you’re just gonna have to wait. I’ve just gotta have another cigarette Then another and another…

In order not to fall back into the tar pit, ice cream has become my sin of choice. You name it — I’ve wolfed every flavor of Haagen Dazs, the result being that I tip the scales at 30 lbs. more than before.

But I’m not smoking. I’m eating. Everything in sight. The first week of fighting the evil weed, I brought home a bag of bagels and ate every one of the six.

Then I switched to ice-cream. I gotta tell ya that slacks with elastic waist bands rock.

Speaking of that cold sweet treat, did you know that it was “invented” in China around 618 AD, by King Tang of Shang who appointed ninety-four “ice men” to whip up batches of buffalo milk and camphor. In 200 BC, China upped the bar by devising a milk and rice concoction packed in snow, and so began the scream for ice-cream. Maybe they called it “rice-cream.”

Actually as a kid I recall eating snow (but not the yellow kind), flavored with whatever my mom felt like parting with…syrup or honey or jam or jelly. King Tang of Shang may have had the eureka! idea, but he never had paddles to lick after a batch of home-made fresh peach stuff.

And another bit of creamery history, would you believe that on 19th century Sundays in Evanston, Illinois, it was illegal to gobble ice cream sodas?! The righteous figured it was akin to stuffing your face (gluttony!) on the Sabbath, but the town fathers figured out how to deep six the law by changing the soda to syrup and the final “y” to an “e,” thus introducing ice cream sundaes. Hey, eventually the devilish delights became the center point of church socials.


It’s amazing what I’ll do for ice cream these days … like pop for a rad rubber scoop designed in Paris and made in China and then distributed from Los Angeles. Hot pink, the high-tech gizmo from Whole Foods was supposed to release the perfect scoop of satiny fat and cream, and wow, all you needed to do was press one finger onto a tiny ball on the topside.

Forget it. It bombed. For awhile I displayed it in my kitchen as a stylish accessory, but eventually it reminded me of a funky dildo, so I threw it out and returned to the BIG SPOON method.

Before it closed its Eastside doors, a jazzy little corner parlor featuring old fashioned marble topped tables, was one of my no-smoking haunts. In the back room, a guy reigned over a laboratory/workplace churning out various ice cream concoctions that wiggled forth from the mouth of a giant steel machine. On his shelves were row after row of huge bottles, filled with various flavors, nuts and chips of chocolate.

And though this pleasant round man usually opted for vanilla as his ice cream of choice, he admitted that sometimes he went wild for strawberry, with a now-and-then yen for pickle. That said, he went ahead and dutifully produced — and I’m not kidding here — ice creams tagged: pretzel, beer, cheese, pickle, oatmeal, potato, and on and on.

A few years back I won a Wisconsin Press Club award (second place) for a piece I wrote for Milwaukee Magazine about Samson the gorilla, who, until he allegedly died from eating too much, was our local zoo dude. Damn, the writer who won first for features 750 words or under, wrote about Milwaukee’s love affair with frozen custard.

Wouldn’t you know? Oh did I mention that a guy from Iowa invented the ice-cream bar?

Categories: Life & Leisure

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