Yesterday I read a shocking statistic. Vanilla ice-cream is the most popular flavor in America. Over 30% of our citizens prefer vanilla over any other kind. And, to make things even worse, Moose Tracks was not even in the top 20 list of favorite ice-cream flavors. None of the Ben and Jerry flavors made the list. These are serious statistics, and I have thought long and hard on this matter. I have two conclusions.
The first conclusion is that we are simply a boring people. Plain vanilla, plain Jane, plain, plain, plain. Yet, in our universe we have at least 31 flavors available in just one location. The grocery store shelves are filled with creative options like Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Why even consider plain vanilla when the sweet goodness of Mint Chocolate Chip beckons? I just don’t understand.
The second conclusion is that we are a sentimental people. After all, vanilla ice cream is what we had on memorable occasions. Remember that scoop of vanilla on the joyous strawberry shortcake in the early spring and the other scoop melting over a thick slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? Remember that velvety vanilla in a tall frosty glass of root beer on a hot summer evening? Remember birthday parties with sugary sweet cake and a scoop of vanilla on top? Remember the cones from Dairy Queen?
But, people! We don’t have to be slaves to the past. True, there are times when the choice will always be vanilla, but there is a wide world of ice-cream flavors out there, waiting to tickle our taste buds.
Clearly I take ice-cream seriously. Around 2004, I was in Vermont for work and visited the Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream factory. Of course the best part is the tasting after the tour. I learned there-to my horror- that ice-cream batches with too many chunks and chips are considered rejects and tossed out or given to employees. I tried to apply for a job then and there but was turned down. Still, Ben and Jerry’s was heaven on earth; in fact, that may be where heaven is actually located.
Although my party-pooper doctor limits me to lifeless fat-free frozen yogurt these days, I do sneak in a bit of exotic stuff now and then. My favorite excuse is when my son is coming for a visit. He needs ice-cream, right? Our family ritual includes a microbrew with dinner and ice-cream for dessert. Of course, the best time is after he leaves and I still have part of the ice-cream left to binge on in private. I swear, he isn’t even back to the Interstate yet by the time I grab that left-over ice cream out of the freezer and dig in with a big spoon.
Yes, ice-cream, in all it’s glorious manifestations is an American institution, an American icon, an American right (I know I saw something in the Bill of Rights once). So, what is it for you—a plain vanilla world or a gooey chocolate, caramel, peanuts world? Summer is nearly here so it is time to take a stand.