I Scream, You Scream
As a kid from West Philadelphia once said, “Summer, summer, summertime.” Now that I have ear-wormed the most classic hot weather jam of all time into your brain, I have you in the right mindset for today’s TED Talk.
Summer, sun and warm weather are finally here. As we all shake off the cobwebs and doldrums of a wet, gloomy and ugly spring (for more reasons than just the weather), the rays of sunshine that beam down from a clear blue Maryland sky remind us that everything is reborn anew every year and that every little thing is gonna be alright. The most important of these yearly re-openings is that of the increasingly rare American Custard Stand.
All of us have our own memories of that stand that opens only for a few short months, and then is gone too soon, like summer itself. My memory involves my father taking me to my local custard stand, Jack’s Drive-in, when I didn’t even stand waist high. Dad said I could have whatever I wanted off the ice cream menu. Anything. The entire menu and my imagination to play with and what did I get as a stupid little kid? A plain vanilla soft-serve cone. No sprinkles. No chocolate or butterscotch dip-dip. Nothing. Just as plain as I could make it. Dad gave me a chance; heaven knows, he gave me a chance.
“Are you sure, Champ? Really sure?”
Stupid little kids like me nod stupidly in the affirm. Dad went to the window and got our order: a vanilla soft serve cone and a C.M.P. (chocolate, marshmallow and peanut) sundae with a cherry and whipped cream on top.
Guess who ended up eating the plain cone and who ate the sundae? Yeah, I don’t even have to tell you the end of this story. He knew and still he made sure that I would leave with chocolate-streaked marshmallow somewhere in my hair. That is the magic of the summer custard stand.
As I said before, these stands are becoming increasingly rare, but luckily there are still some around.
At 1201 E. Patrick St., Beef ’n Buns ’n Paradise is everything you want in a seasonal custard stand. Not only do they have frozen treats in all shapes, sizes and flavors, but they make great burgers and other drive-in fare. Treat your best girl (or boy or whatevs) to a homemade apple pie sundae with warm caramel sauce, homemade mini apple pies and creamy vanilla soft-serve. Add a “Mammoth” Cape May half-pound burger topped with ham, a crab cake and all the fixin’s.
In Mount Airy and Damascus, there is Jimmie Cone. With a small menu they concentrate on quality soft-serve with smiles. Get a Hot Fudge Cake Boat or make your own sundae. Choose from a snowball in a rainbow of flavors or a gelati (water ice with ice cream). The Damascus location is perfect for early evening sunsets and also hosts classic car shows to get your vroom-vroom on (with Gov. Hogan’s permission, of course.)
Urbana’s favorite Sweet Babe’s Creamery is a super-friendly little spot to get your cream on. Ice cream cakes, soft-serve cones and milkshakes are all great choices to cool down with. The owner and staff are as welcoming as your grandma’s kitchen. You can’t go wrong here.
These days, anytime you can forget the outside world is a blessing. Luckily with warm rays of sunshine come cold mounds of sweet, sweet treats. Just be sure to order the C.M.P. this time, dummy.