Cool, sweet and delicious. No, I am not just tooting my own horn again. I am referring to that favorite summertime treat, ice cream.
As we are now in the ''dog days of summer,'' the thoughts (and taste buds) of many are on that yummy hot-weather dessert. What is your favorite flavor? Do you choose a classic like vanilla or do you instead prefer something more exotic like rocky road or butter pecan?
Ice cream is as American as apple pie ... ooh ... apple pie with ice cream, now you're talking. If you enjoy ice cream, you may have fond childhood memories of your parents or grandparents taking you to a favorite spot to pick out your favorite flavor on hot summer evenings.
July is National Ice Cream Month, so let's celebrate with some interesting ice cream facts. The Roman emperor Nero is associated with ice cream's origins as it can be traced back to the Fourth Century B.C. He ordered it to be brought back from the mountains and combined with fruit.
The first hand-crank ice cream maker was developed in 1847.
The Dairy Food Association reports that 90 percent of American households consume ice cream with the top three favorites being vanilla, chocolate and cookies-and-cream respectively. Each American consumes around 22 quarts of the frozen dessert each year, and if that isn't enough ice cream trivia, here is one last surprising fact that I found: men indulge in more middle-of-the-night ice cream binges than women.
I have some great childhood memories of our family enjoying ice cream together. In the summertime, we would all pile into our red woody station wagon and drive to the Dairy Queen on West Market Street in Warren. After ordering, dad would put the tailgate down and we would sit on it and try our best to lick our melting cones before they dripped all over the parking lot.
For us, enjoying ice cream was not just a hot weather occasion. I remember a few times when my father kicked us all out of the kitchen after he made a secret trip to the grocery store. A little while later, we were each rewarded with a big ice cream sundae adorned with nuts, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.
Thanks Dad, for making our childhood so special.
Some of the best places to enjoy America's favorite frozen treat aren't the big name chain stores, they are the one-location ''mom and pop'' stands. Who remembers stopping at Sweet Pete's on the corner of Bazetta Road and Route 305 after a long day at the fair? My brother and I used to ride our bikes to Isaly's on Tod Avenue to get two huge scoops carefully balanced atop a sugar cone.
Making your own ice cream is a very big deal in the South, at least it is where I used to live. The church we belonged to held an ice cream social every summer with one rule: If you brought ice cream to the event, it had to be homemade. It was somewhat of an ice cream pageant, if you will, and was even judged by a panel one summer with prizes given for the best entries.
I think my contribution that year was chocolate peanut butter, but I didn't win anything. We also made cherry once with fresh-picked fruit from a neighbor's tree ... simply delicious.
Whether you decide to drive to the nearest ice cream stand or pull the ice cream maker out of the closet, make sure to enjoy one of life's sweetest indulgences this summer and all year through.
One last weird ice cream fact: Among the most unusual ice cream flavors ever manufactured are jalapeno, avocado, garlic and dill pickle. Enjoy.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident.