Over the past couple of years I have noticed the gradual disappearance of strawberry ice cream at the grocery stores in my area. At first I put it down to the awful, fantastically out-of-date, cramped, mismanaged Safeways that surround us. But then I noticed that other stores in the metro area were similarly devoid of strawberry. The other morning I was in a Harris Teeter near my office and I saw the Edy’s delivery guy. I took a quick look at their freezer case and sure enough, no strawberry. So I asked the delivery man what was up with strawberry. He told me that Edy’s still makes it but that no one on his route orders it anymore.
That. Is. So. Sad.
Now, before you think I am loony toons, let me just say that strawberry ice cream is not necessarily my favorite flavor. But sometimes I get a crazy craving for it and all other flavors pale in comparison. I should also note that not just any ice cream will do. I crave the kind that is so perfectly melty by the time you get it home from the store that the top layer under the lid is sheer perfection. Premium brands will not work–not enough air. No Ben and Jerry’s, no Haagen-Dazs. Mid market Breyer’s (not to be confused with Edy’s sister brand Dreyer’s) is just god awful in any flavor. Its mouth feel and lack of creaminess is just the worst. Some store brands can do in a pinch, but they lean too much to the artificial side. Although I haven’t had it for a long time, my guess is the Kemp’s of my Minnesota childhood would probably still fit the bill as would home-delivered (in some markets) Schwann’s. But none of those are feasible on a regular basis.
Even if I didn’t have a brand preference I’ve noticed lately that I can’t find strawberry at the grocery store at all. Not premium, not store brand, not any brand. So these days I am pretty much limited to getting the occasional scoop at an actual ice cream shop. This can work, but it isn’t quite the same thing (see above, re: melty bit under the lid).
Tonight I went to pick up a sandwich for dinner. (John’s out of town, the kitchen counters were sealed today and can’t be used until tomorrow.) The place I go for sammies has ice cream and lo and behold they had strawberry. So while I waited for them to make my order I sat down outside and had double scoop. (Yes, before dinner.) Today was the first day we haven’t had rain in about a bazillion days so it was really nice to kick back and enjoy some strawberry ice cream in the early evening sunshine. The product itself was just so-so It is a local brand that isn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite right. As I sat there eating it I began thinking about the Trickling Springs Dairy shop at Union Market in DC. It’s a great food venue with lots of great outlets but it is nowhere near our house and kind of a big pain in the butt to get to. I was fantasizing about someone opening a Trickling Springs shop in our neck of the woods which led to me fantasizing about some of the other Union Market offerings moving up here as well, none of which will happen.
Even though it wasn’t perfect, the cup of strawberry hit the spot and cheered me up to no end. Then I began to walk back to my car and was passing our neighborhood cinema when I noticed that their little coffee shop/concession stand had a sign that said “TRICKLING SPRINGS ICE CREAM”! My first thought was “Damn, I just had inferior ice cream.” My second thought was “Who the hell cares, this is Trickling Springs.” So I went inside and got a cup of cookies and cream. Again, all prior to having dinner.
The irony of the situation is that I didn’t even notice if they had strawberry. I had already scratched that itch I guess. There’s always next time. So I guess the moral of the story is so what if my childhood has disappeared from the giant, chain, grocery stores. As long as mom and pop are still making ice cream there is a pretty good chance I will still be able to get what I need. And I probably don’t need half gallon tubs of it in my home anyway.