I just learned that July is National Ice Cream month (thanks Public Radio Kitchen!), which gives me a perfect opportunity to expound on one of my favorite topics/foods.
There’s a special place in my heart for ice cream. I don’t know where it came from or why it’s there, but I know the longest-running love of my life has been with a pint of coffee Haagen-Dazs. How I didn’t end up an obese adolescent is beyond me. God knows I ate enough ice cream.
Having grown up in New England, there were plenty of places to indulge. Up in my neck of the woods there was Benson’s and (now defunct) Treadwell’s, Findeisen’s and my all-time favorite Hodgies. We had the ubiquitous Friendly’s in the center of town, where we headed in the winter when everything else was closed and a DQ not far away, where we went with my grampa when he got a hankering for soft-serve vanilla. There was Scoops in Burlington, the site of my first encounter with a banana split and Ham Bones, somewhere near Rowley, where I first ate black raspberry because it was purple, my then-favorite color. And of course when we came into the city there was J.P. Licks, Steve’s and Emack & Bolio’s… there were a lot, a lot of options.
However, the event I dreamed about all year, the cherry on the top of my ice cream consumption, was the Scooperbowl, an annual slice of heaven that motivated me to brush my teeth and do my chores and generally behave like I had a halo hovering over my head for a full two weeks beforehand.
Last month, Chicky and I decided to relive some of our childhood and headed there with a few friends. Of course we indulged and indulged some more, giving ourselves stomach aches and sugar highs in the process. But being there was sort of like going to Chuck E. Cheese a decade or two after your 12th birthday and expecting good pizza.
While I’m pretty happy anytime I’m confronted with all you can eat ice cream, I was a bit puzzled by the Scooperbowl’s selection. With all the fantastic scoop shops in the area- from Kimball Farm to Christina’s to Rancatore’s to Toscanini’s, I couldn’t figure out why there were a) just nine ice cream places to choose from and b) why it was dominated by ice cream franchises like Hood and Ben & Jerry’s. Don’t get me wrong, I think the big boys have their place, but I can go to any 7-Eleven in the country and pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
The fact is, the Scooperbowl might as well have been in New York. Or Miami. Or Omaha. There was nothing distinctly “Boston” about it. One would think that when you’re running “the nation’s largest all-you-can-eat ice cream festival,” an event billed as “New England’s biggest and best ice cream extravaganza” that there would be more than nine places to choose from and that it would make sense to include a few of the can’t-find-it-anywhere-else gems in your own backyard.
Maybe the Scooperbowl organizers don’t think they need the local shops? Maybe the local shops think they don’t need the Scooperbowl? I don’t know. But it seems like adding a few to the roster could do nothing but good.