Ice Cream addict invited to taste 48 flavors, choose favorite

My curiosity, such as it is, was piqued the other day as I glanced at a flyer in the Sunday paper.  Our own local Darigold was on a quest for a new ice cream flavor.  If you want to see a flagrant and spectacular violation of the known laws of physics, watch how fast a half-gallon of ice cream can disappear when I am near.

So being the ice cream hound that I am, I immediately sat down and sent them 23 flavors.  I thought I had been clever with fun names and whimsical ingredients:  Maui Waui, Shanna Banana, Seattle Grunge, and was counting the days until September 20 when the finalist would be notified.  But as the count-down continued, the complacency gave way to the grim, clear-eyed reality that I lost.

Whipped into an emotional frenzy, I had almost succeeded in driving the thought of doing two of my favorite things–eating and eating ice cream good-bye, when I received this letter:

“Dear Darigold Concoction Contest Entrant: Congratulations!  While your ‘flavor’ was not one of the winning entries your letter convinced us that you deserve a seat on Darigold’s Feature Flavors Selection Panel as a VIP guest taster.  You will be sampling 48 different flavors of ice cream to help us select the flavors that will be included in next year’s Darigold Feature Flavors program.”

I naturally was delighted, yet became delirious when Jan Roberts, consumer scientist for Darigold, informed me there were over 10,000 entries!

“They had all been very clever,” she explained.  “Some went as far as sending ingredients with their recipe.  Out of all the entries there seem to be a trend towards coconut, pretzel, lemon, and mint flavors.”  And she continued chuckling as it was quite a challenge to narrow 10,000 entries down to four flavors; one for each category of fruit, nut, chocolate and candy.

How long did it take to compose one of the four winning flavors?  Four weeks.  The flavor was sent to the manufacturer who took about a week with special instructions from Darigold.  A quart would then return to the consumer science lab where the staff would taste and approve the flavor. When approved, the design for the box would start and ample ice cream would be made for the VIP taste testers who would choose the winners.

First we started with fruit and used the two-spoon method.  I was ready for the big one spoon method but rules are rules.  We had 20 minutes to take ice cream from a big metal spoon and put a scoop of ice cream on a little pink plastic spoon.  Savor the flavor (as many times as we wanted) then rate it on a scale of 1-5 for the overall reaction to the flavor, name and carton design.

I will not here or anywhere describe what I remember of eating 48 flavors of ice cream in 2-1/2 hours, which is almost everything.  Enough to say that having not eaten 48 flavors of ice cream in one sitting  before, I was surprised that by the time we had reached the fourth category (candy) I wanted to shout, “Enough already! My teeth are getting fuzzy!”  But I did not because the four finalist and the 17 invited guests would have turned on me, and my lifeless body would have been found later in a butter vat, covered with tiny plastic spoons.

I was incredibly full.  Me–an ice cream addict who in a million years would never have thought ice cream could be filling.  But each taste was better than the last, every bite burst with creamy rich flavor; with wonderful ingredients and surprising names such as, Mud Puddle, Cloudy With a Chance of Cookies, Chocolate Freckles, Muddy Snowshoes and Cluster’s Last Stand.

The winning flavors for the four categories were: Mad About Chew (chocolate category) with chunks of brownies, mini candy coated chocolates, ribbons of peanut butter, and chocolate flavored ice cream; Red Hot Java (candy category) with cinnamon red hot candies, and cinnamon-coffee-flavored ice cream; Internut (nut category)with roasted almonds, white chocolate chunks, webs of chocolate fudge, and pistachio-flavored ice cream; and English Lemon Meringue Custard (fruit category) with lemon meringue swirl, pie pieces, and lemon-custard flavored ice cream.

They were all delicious.  My favorite, even though I am a chocolaholic, was the English Lemon Meringue Custard.  It was delightfully different.

As a parting gift, Darigold each gave us a talking  Ice Cream Man scoop.  It yells, “Ice Cream” and then you hear bells ringing from an old fashioned ice cream truck.  Unfortunately we ice cream addicts don’t like a lot of noise when we are sneaking the last bites out of the box, so I think I will keep that hidden in the drawer.



Catching up with ‘Mr.Canteloupe’

The cantaloupe hits the big time during its peak June through October. Believed to be a native of Asia he currently resides in warm and sunny California.  New in our town and only playing for these few weeks of summer, Cantaloupe is currently starring at your local produce department in “Fruit Cup” where he has teamed up with Honeydew and Watermelon.

Rich in vitamins A and C and potassium, and containing a fair amount of niacin and iron, he’s America’s answer to a sweet bargain for any dieter.  Half of a 5-inch melon provides the day’s requirement for vitamins A and C and has only 82 calories.  An incredible 825 milligrams of potassium along with low levels of sodium and fat, makes it the perfect treat for those concerned with blood pressure.

He’s everywhere you look but unfortunately he is still confined to bit parts such as this Scenario:  For many Americans, the fourth of July means fireworks, parades, picnics and watermelon.

I caught up with Mr. Cantaloupe backstage at Safeway’s produce bin.

Q. The fact that watermelon is still number one at picnics, does that make you bitter?

A. Who me? I’m not bitter, I’m sweet.  Ask HoneyDew.  Between you and me I’d say she was a little green with jealousy.

Q. You and Honeydew were linked romantically for years.  Is it all over between you?

A. We will always have our differences. But she is well loved, served plain or fancy.

Q. The melon is a vegetable that is eaten as a fruit.  Melons belong to the Curcurbitaceae botanical group that is also called the gourd family.

A. Yeah, what is your point?

Q. Well, some could say you are quite rotund.

A. Big Deal. Look at Watermelon. He’s HUGE.

Q. Well, no offense, but you are very difficult to tell when you are ripe.

A. Puh-leeze.  Number one, a ripe cantaloupe has a characteristic sweet and delicate odor. If it’s not fragrant, leave it at room temperature for a few days to ripen.  A well-rounded, much better word than rotund I might add, melon should have a depressed smooth scar at the stem end and a slight softness when pressed at the bottom end.

Q. You do have a lot of seeds inside of you.

A. Implausible that some people think shaking my seeds around means I am ripe. You estimate a good melon by checking my underbelly.

Q. Your underbelly?

A. Of course, that is the part that rested on the ground when I was growing.  A pale yellow color indicates a ripe, flavorful melon. Green areas may be under ripe.

Q. They say you are delicious snack as well as an appetizer, dessert, or a main meal.

A. All that stuff, yeah. I’m really well rounded in that you can make dinner by scooping chicken salad inside my beautiful orange flesh or top me with ice cream.  I have even been know to be peeled, sliced, and tossed with berries.

Q. You know a very good treat on a hot summer day is to puree cantaloupe and make it into a sorbet.

A. You think so? I personal think that people are too quick to gobble me as a snack and not appreciate the fact that I can come to the table as a gourmet meal.

Q. How so?

A. Psst, come a little closer and I’ll tell ya. You know that cute little peach over there? She and I have been known to be good together.  Peel one peach and cube 1/4 melon, sprinkle with lemon juice. Place in blender with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, grate an orange rind for a little zest, just a pinch or so, and my favorite part, 1/4 cup white wine.  Puree until smooth.  Add a little sugar to your taste.  Serve cold and you have a melon soup for one.  Use your good china naturally.

Q. You may be a bit player, but your character will never go out of style.

A. Nah. I am here for the long run.  Hey, you see rhubarb over there? We were never a good match.  I think it had something to do with the fact she wasn’t well rounded enough.  How about you introduce me to that red heart plum…