Sunday, July 07, 2013

A Cone, a Swirl and a Smile


Sure, artisanal ice cream is all the rage, and I would never pass up a scoop of Brown Butter Makers Mark Bourbon Ice Cream.  But, in the end, my heart belongs to Carvel.  Vanilla.  In a coronet sugar cone.  It’s hopelessly suburban, and about as “vanilla” as you can possibly get, but something about soft swirl ice cream just makes me swoon.

Recently, we were in America’s heartland for a family wedding, and my brother stopped at a competing ice cream franchise for a cone.   The guy at the counter said to him, “You have Carvelli back east, don’t you?”

Um, that would be CARVEL, please – home of vanilla, chocolate and pistachio cones, Strawberry Bonnets, Flying Saucers and the Fudgie the Whale ice cream cake.  I don’t think we ever tasted Fudgie the Whale, (for Father’s Day and a Whale of a Dad) but the name was legendary.

The roadside Carvel store was the local ice cream parlor of my youth. In that Mad Men era of booming commercialized food products, it was actually the McDonalds of ice cream.  Carvel stores dotted Long Island.  While the name lives on in commercial ice cream products available in grocery stores, there are actually very few stand-alone stores still around.  Sadly, our original family Carvel on Broadway eventually went out of business and the building became a barber shop.  I still drive by and find myself craving a cone.  

A trip to Carvel was a special family treat.  My little brother, who’s no longer little, still believes that Memorial Day marks the start of Carvel season. After dinner, we’d pile in the station wagon and head for the store.  We’d order our cones at the counter and sometimes sit in the car, or stand in the parking lot and lick them silly.  If you really wanted to splurge, you’d get a cone with sprinkles (chocolate or multi-colored) but somehow those sprinkles messed up the perfect spin of swirls that graduated to that jaunty spit curl of ice cream at the top of the peak. 

A Carvel vanilla cone was that perfect balance of slick, chilly refreshment and luxurious creamy goodness, with just a touch of a pleasing lactose coma when the experience was done.   
Perhaps it’s no surprise that when I bought my own home, there happened to be a Carvel store located less than a mile away.  This holiday weekend, I’ll be celebrating with a cold one!

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

14 comments:

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Nothing like an ice cream cone to celebrate the 4th of July and summertime. We didn't have Carvel, but we did have a Dairy Queen where all the kids hung out. Brings back nice memories.
Sam

~~louise~~ said...

Oh how I remember those Carvel too, T.W.

I was aghast when I was in Idaho to learn that Carvel birthday cakes were available in the local Walmart. My son-in-law requested one for his birthday. I must say, I'm sure he wasn't expecting the memory blast when my daughter and I shared our fond Carvel memories with him. I'm so glad she has those memories too. Ah to have a Carvel cone with sprinkles right now...

Thank you so much for reviving those memories...

Laura Luciano said...

TW — I just HAD a carvel sundae this evening, so happy to see you had yourself come CARVEL-ICIOUS! when I was a child my father used to do an abracadabra trick with this glow in the dark bunny that he would pull out of a hat. He would do this magic trick, the bunny would disappear and then my father would say, "ok let's go to carvel" Without fail - the woman who was behind the counter at the Thornwood Shopping Center's location would always have the BUNNY! It was the greatest "trick" and thanks to the nice lady behind the counter she played along with my father and we got ourselves some Carvel. :)

Barbara said...

My dear T. W., the minute I saw the first photo I knew it was Carvel. I've been scarfing it down since I had my first cone of it in Florida in the 50's. I've always described it as seven minute frosting in soft serve form.
Fortunately, there is one 1/2 mile from me. And I know the location of all of them within a 25 mile radius. Hah!

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Those swirled ice-creams look great! That's soft ice like we Belgians call it.

You don't see that often over here, only in a few places & nearly only in 1 flavour: vanilla & sometimes dipped into chocolate & it becomes hard & tasty! Lovely! :) Lucky you!

Velva said...

I grew up on Carvel ice cream. I can remember Friday nights at the school park and after the park closed we headed to Carvel for ice cream cones. Love, love it.

Vanilla was my all-time favorite.

Velva

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I grew up having soft serve at the local Dairy Queen but when I moved to Florida, there were Carvel stores. It is good ice cream but your mention of Brown Butter Makers Mark Bourbon ice cream sounds delicious.

Gloria Baker said...

I love Ice cream! and love theses look georgeous T.W.!!

Axelle the french cook said...

THOSE are ice cream ! Perfect ! :)

Tammy said...

Nothing beats a cold softer serve on a hot summer day!

Come to think of it though I don't know of any carvels near where we live...only BR :/

I remember when I was younger my mom would take us out late at night to carvel and I would always get vanilla with rainbow sprinkles! ^_^ Ahhh memories.

Toodles,
Tammy

deana sidney said...

I know it's not good ice cream, yes, I know. But I love the way it looks coming out of the machine with the ripples and swirls. So much cooler than rough circles of premium ice cream. And, I'm like you, I grew up on this kind of ice cream, not ethically sourced chocolate and grass-fed cow's cream and milk (although I think cows generally ate grass when we were kids, didn' they?). Soft served brings a bit of childhood back, doesn't it?

Catherine said...

Dear T.W., Yes, when I was little I have fond memories of Carvel too. The one on Merrick Rd. in Massapequa. I think that just might be the original, but I could be wrong.
Blessings, Catherine

tasteofbeirut said...

in Dallas, all the ice-cream stores are gone (save for a few Dairy Queens) and what's popping up instead are frozen yogurt joints; wonder why that has not caught up back East. anyway, this ice cream cone of icy creamy slushness would be a hit anywhere in the world/ pity nobody makes Arabic style ice-creams in the US, (yet).

Chris Crowe said...

We've got several Carvel stores in the Atlanta area, but I don't remember them serving soft serve. After seeing these cones, I have to go back and check then buy five of them and scarf them down.