Last weekend, I took my girlfriend and our assorted offspring to the Tillamook Cheese Factory on the Oregon coast. One of the highlights of our trip was ordering ice cream cones. Tillamook dairy products are delicious, and with 38 flavors to choose from (ha – take that, Baskin Robbins!), narrowing it down to one seemed a Herculean task. To my amusement, the other four chose “Grandma’s cake batter,” leaving me the Odd Man Out with my boring ol’ “Sweet Centennial Celebration.” The whole experience left me wondering: when, exactly, did “cake batter” become an official ice cream flavor? A couple of years ago, you could have cake and ice cream, but there was no such thing as cake flavored ice cream. Suddenly, you see it everywhere. Is it simply a marriage of convenience? Taking two different desserts that are often enjoyed side by side, and combining them into one? Ice cream cakes have been around for years. I suppose cake batter ice cream was the next logical step. Or maybe there was simply a dearth of yellow ice cream. Lemon sherbet aside – and that doesn’t count, sherbet is NOT ice cream (and where the heck is the missing second “r”, anyway? I think it escaped and is hiding out in the word February) – the closest sort-of yellowish ice cream you could find was French vanilla, and really, that’s more of an off-white shade than anything else.
Maybe the CIA saw an opportunity and jumped on it. I am referring to the Cake Industry of America, not the secret spy organization. They probably saw the popularity of cookie dough ice cream – another odd concoction – and figured the Keebler elves were hogging the spotlight. If Americans were so eager to accept one odd dessert pairing, surely they might find room for another, and thus they hauled out their big gun: the one and only Betty Crocker. Suddenly, you could have your cake and eat it, too. Even atop an ice cream cone.
Speaking of ice cream cones, does anybody ever order anything besides waffle cones these days? And when did they pop up? As a kid, I remember two choices: sugar cones and cake cones (hmm…cake batter ice cream in a cake cone, anyone? Or is that the epitome of “overkill”)? I never ordered a sugar cone. They reminded me too much of upside-down birthday party hats and didn’t taste very good. Cake cones were light and airy. Given enough time, they would probably melt on your tongue like communion wafers (at the risk of being struck by an errant bolt of lightning, the best reason for going to church that my ten-year-old brain could conjure up). My brother, as I recall, often skipped the cone entirely and just went for ice cream in a cup. What a waste, I always thought. Of course, nowadays they sell “waffle cone cups” so you can savor eating your ice cream with a spoon, and then when you’re finished, eat the bowl it came in. I don’t really see the point in this – an ice cream cone without the ice cream is rather dry and unappealing. But hey, the CIA is probably raking in the dough, selling all those cones to people who wouldn’t otherwise order cones. This time, by CIA, I mean the Cone Industry of America, not the Cake Industry of America or the secret spy organization.
No doubt about it, the more I ponder ice cream, the more confused I become. Like, why is the popular ice cream cone you buy from your grocer’s freezer named after a chicken leg? If it’s an ice cream sandwich, where is the bread? Does a sprinkling of peanuts really make a road rocky? Who decided that strawberry should take up residence beside the far superior vanilla and chocolate in neopolitan? And regarding spumoni, all I can say is – what were they thinking?! It’s about as appealing as a fruitcake, only it melts.
This all makes me yearn for the simplicity of pie.
But hold on a sec…now they’re selling apple-pie flavored ice cream…
Where does the madness end?!