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Turning Back Time Vol 2: Ice Cream in a Dish

Summer is closer to its end than its beginning as I sit writing this. Sigh… another season of hot, sunny days interspersed with massive amounts of rain has come and gone. Unfortunately, I spent most of it as all adults do — working. Long gone are summer vacations between school years, those carefree days of running through the sprinkler, playing video games and intense games of pickle that lasted well past our bedtime.

When I was younger, one of the greatest treats of summer was when my parents would ask, “Who wants to go to Kurver for ice cream?” At that moment, all of the glories of summer would pale in comparison to the sunshiney glow of that idea. The feeling continues to this day, even at age 34. When Cody and I traveled to NY this summer for a full WEEK of vacation (first in a while) I insisted that we stop, which leads us to our next stop in Turning Back Time!!

Kurver Kreme has been in existence since 1952, making it 66 at the time of this article’s writing. For reference, the golden arches of McDonald’s weren’t debuted until 1953. Dunkin’ Donuts is only two years older. Home Depot is 26 years younger. Walmart plopped into existence 10 years after. Toys “R” Us started in 1957 and ceased to exist in 2018. It’s easy to forget how impressive it is for a small, family run business to endure almost seven decades of fads, the economy, new generations and fickle customers. I applaud the Kurver Kreme family for their perseverance and wish them many more years of success!

But, I’m off track here.

The building where Kurver currently resides has been their home since the mid-80s (a.k.a almost all of my life). It looks like an old Carvel Ice Cream building. I can’t for sure say it was one in a former life, but I can say for sure that it hasn’t changed for as long as I can remember.

The red and white striped canopy shields the order windows and patrons from the elements.

Painted advertisements for sundaes, shakes and food that hang in the windows.

I remember walking over for lunch on break from my summer job in the cemetery when I was 15 years old. Those canopies and signs were there. Giant neon letters rest front and center on the top of the building, emitting a warm red light that welcomes without offending. Picnic tables provide the perfect place to sit and enjoy your well deserved treats while you watch the world speed by. It is this weirdly perfect mash-up of senses and emotions that settles an almost unexpected peacefulness in a person.

It can feel a bit overwhelming when you first approach the window. Listed on each side of the row of order windows you will find the ice cream flavors, which range from cake batter to toasted coconut to pistachio. These flavors change each week, with the exception of vanilla, chocolate and twist —those three have permanent housing on the sign. With such an expansive weekly menu, you can find something for every taste. There are cake cones and housemade waffle cones. Toppings are generous; the selection, vast. If you can think of some combination, Kurver probably offers it. You can grab some nachos or a hot dog. Wash anything down with a shake or perhaps a malt. Just take your time, look with purpose and make your choice.

I will admit, I have always had basic, plain and boring tastes when it comes to ice cream. As a kid, for hand-dipped ice cream, I went with chocolate chip, mint chip, cookie dough or cookies n’ cream (my favorite). When I hit my mid-teens, I added coffee/mocha chip. Baller, I know. But when it comes to soft serve, it’s always been one flavor and one flavor only… vanilla. I love it!! So smooth. So basic. So damn delicious. Which is all I ask out of my ice cream. So, guess what I got? Dish of vanilla!!! Whoop whooooooo!! I also got sprinkles on it. Rainbow. Boom.

Before you ask, I did say “dish.” I’ve always called it a dish. Kurver calls it a dish, so it will always be a dish. Dishes of ice cream for life. I used to eat cones when I was a child. So messy. Ice cream always running down the sides. Ugh… who needs that? Dish it up. Note to any parents out there: Get your kids cones. When it starts to run a bit, you can take the cone for them to “clean up the sides” before giving it back. My mom was the master at that. Free licks of ice cream and no one loses. Double boom.

Each portion of ice cream served is generous. You are gifted a sizeable portion, likely more than expected. Keep that in mind when you order so you can plan to finish instead of wasting beautiful ice cream. My medium filled the dish perfectly. The perfect swirl as it was dispensed made for welcoming peaks and decadent valleys that I was eager to consume. The cap of rainbow sprinkles was perfect, leaving bits of ice cream peeking out. A dairy-filled patchwork tapestry that my spoon was eager to scoop. Who am I to deny it? Away we go.

The thing that has always amazed me when I eat Kurver ice cream is the consistency. It’s not hard ice cream, but it’s a little stiffer than soft serve. It brushes shoulders with frozen yogurt without the pretentious feeling. While some may not appreciate it, I truly do. I think the rich, flavorful silkyness needs the robust body in order to fully shine. Anything thinner wouldn’t create the luscious mouthfeel that carries the flavors to each and every taste bud.

Outside the texture, I love the flavor. While I went with plain ole’ vanilla this time, I have experienced other flavors in the past. What I’ve found is that regardless of the flavor, Kurver ice cream tastes real. You don’t get that fake chemically sugar taste that can permeate foods made with garbage ingredients. With almost every bite, minus those full of sprinkles, I got a clean vanilla flavor. It was all I could ask for.

We sat on a picnic table to chat and enjoy our ice cream. Watching my niece at six enjoy the same treat that I did when I was six was surreal. It was as if someone had cranked the pilot light up under my childhood beaker. That bad boy was boiling and bubbling in all the old ways. I knew it wouldn’t last long, so I soaked it in as much as I could. There aren’t many places left that can evoke such great feelings in me. There are even less that I can share with my niece, allowing our childhood hearts to swell together. Kurver Kreme is one of those places. It is a personal treasure for my family and our community. I hope they keep up the amazing work for 60 more years. Until next time faithful readers, may your ice cream be local, your sprinkles be rainbow and your containers always be called dishes.

#KurverKreme #icecream #softserve