Al Batt: All together now, we all yodel for yummy ice cream

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

It was too windy to pick rocks.

Al Batt

We file away things in our heads for little reason other than to give us something to do when we’re not picking rocks.

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Things melt in our mouths, in our hands and, sadly, in our minds. This little ditty remains firmly planted in my brain, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

It’s a gladdening ode to the sweet delights of ice cream. “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream,” a song first published in 1927 by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll and Robert King, stemmed from a commercial slogan for the I-Scream bar now known as the Eskimo Pie.

Ah, 1927. It was quite a year. A year long. Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight in history, flying his Spirit of St. Louis from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France. I hope he had enough legroom. Babe Ruth, a member of the fearsome New York Yankees lineup of power hitters known as “Murderer’s Row” that also included Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Bob Meusel, hit a record 60 home runs that year. The iconic flapper and silent film star Clara Bow was the It Girl. Gas was $.21 a gallon, bacon was $.47 a pound, annual tuition to Luther College in Iowa was $125, a Harley Davidson JD motorcycle had a $320 price tag and a raccoon coat would set you back $39.50.

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” is an iconic jingle that evokes a sweet feeling of summer and fuels a desire for ice cream. I love ice cream. Ice cream is duct tape, glue, wire and rope all in one — it fixes everything. Eating ice cream is cool. I occasionally get an ice cream headache. It’s a small price to pay.

Anyway, it was too windy to pick rocks, so I drove into Le Mars, Iowa, which claims to make more ice cream than any other location on Earth. The city of 10,000 people was dubbed the Ice Cream Capital of the World in 1994. I made a beeline to the Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor (formerly the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor) in Le Mars, where people work sundaes.

In 1935, the Wells Brothers, perhaps inspired by Ruth and Lindbergh’s achievements in 1927, needed a new name for their ice cream product. To drum up excitement, they ran a “Name That Ice Cream” contest in the Sioux City Journal with a cash prize of $25 ($566.29 today). John Vanden Brink submitted the winning name: Blue Bunny. How did he come up with that name? He’d noticed how much his son enjoyed seeing the blue bunnies in a department store window at Easter time. Blue Bunny ice cream was born.

I was making a solo drive. I hate to compare it to Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight, but I will. It pales in comparison, but I’m naming my car the Spirit of St. Louis. Being unchaperoned created a problem, as I don’t like to eat ice cream alone. Thank goodness I have an imaginary friend who hits more home runs than Babe Ruth.

My favorite ice cream is maple nut. Eating maple nut ice cream is my superpower. I counted 29 flavors of ice cream at the parlor in Le Mars. Maple nut wasn’t one of them. I like cherry nut and butter pecan, too. Cherry nut was also missing in action, but so were the broccoli and spinach flavors. I got the inside scoop and enjoyed delicious butter pecan ice cream in a waffle cone, only because a bucket wasn’t available. I was part of a herd of people grazing on ice cream. One of them, perhaps reading a sign on the wall, said, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy ice cream.”

I replied with something I’d likely read on the wall of another ice cream parlor, “Ice cream is like life. Enjoy it before it melts.”

My compliments and undying gratitude to the ice cream chef there. My ice cream was sublime.

Howard Cosell said, “Sports is the toy department of human life.”

On that day, butter pecan ice cream in a waffle cone was the toy department of my life.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday in the Tribune.