Baby, it’s warm outside.
Which brings us to today’s dearly beloved, wonderfully cool summertime topic: Ice cream, which, like pasta, may or may not have been "brought" west by Marco Polo. (Historians today discount the pasta legend, but do believe Marco brought back the recipe for something akin to sherbet when he returned from China in 1254.)
The setup: I was at my cousin Caroline’s house recently for a party and, post-buffet, she asked if I was in the mood for ice cream.
“Always,” I said. “Whatcha got?”
“Oh, I don’t have any in the freezer,” she said. “I was just going to text the ice cream man.”
I was momentarily confused.
Text the ice cream man?
You can do that?
“Sure, I’ve been doing it for years,” she said. “I have his number on my phone. You just text him and…”
“Yes. Like Uber. With sprinkles.”
I guess if you have kids, you already knew this was a possibility. But it was news to me.
I have since also learned that there are phone apps designed for the same purpose. The website screamtruck.com (as in “I scream, you scream…”) lets you add your house to the Scream Truck route. Thereafter, you will get a text whenever the Scream Truck is in your general vicinity. Or, you can summon the truck to your home. Mister Softee's app lets you track nearby trucks.
It all sounds very NCIS, doesn’t it?
(Am I really surprised by this? Nah. Nowadays, there are apps that allow you to have almost any food item delivered to your door.)
Don’t know Y:Even after summer school, I never learned algebra
As a kid, I saw two ice cream trucks on my block at least twice a day: Good Humor and Bungalow Bar.
The latter inspired a song that kids chanted in the street. It began: “Bungalow Bar, tastes like tar…”
I don’t know who wrote this nasty song. Probably the Good Humor man. But it wasn’t true. Their ice cream was delicious.
Both trucks specialized in ice cream bars and pre-made cones and sundaes. (Mr. Softee and his soft-serve cones came along later, followed by Freezer Fresh, which was essentially Mr. Softee in a slightly different vehicle.)
The Good Humor man had a colorful menu that showed photos of all of the bars and Creamsicles that lurked behind his tantalizing freezer door.
My brother, my cousins and I were allowed to get anything that cost 15 cents. (Usually, your basic vanilla ice cream bar.)
My parents and the other adults, meanwhile, would get the luxurious 25-cent bars that wore coats of shredded coconut or toasted almonds.
When I was 14, I bought my own toasted almond bar and immediately felt terribly sophisticated, and far too worldly to hang around with other children.
As my closest friends know, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I never buy cakes or cookies, although I occasionally get the urge for something sugary.
Eight years ago, I went to B&W Bakery in Hackensack, ordered half a dozen jelly donuts and then returned to my car and ate all six of them, like the Wolf Man: wild eyes, fangs, jelly dripping down my neck…
I haven’t gone there since.
I have better control with ice cream and always try to have some in my freezer. Although, two weeks ago, I got the urge for a banana split and realized I had no ice cream in the house.
So, I opted for another summertime favorite: the dearly beloved, wonderfully cool chocolate egg cream.
The next day, at a restaurant with friends, I happened to mention the egg cream. My younger friends — and by younger, I mean impertinent 50-ish whippersnappers, who’ve never even tasted an egg cream— always pounce on this.
In every group, there is often one person who relentlessly annoys everyone else. Generally, that person is me. But, on this occasion, my friend Dean laughed and mockingly said, “Egg creams are those drinks that don’t have eggs or cream in them, right?”
“Actually,” I said, “I do use cream — with chocolate syrup and seltzer.”
“But no egg?” Dean asked. “Am I right?”
“You’re always right, Dean,” I said, while looking for something large to throw at him.
Still, he persisted.
“So, why call it an EGG cream, if there’s no egg in it?“Dean, I have no idea. But that’s what it’s called and what it’s always been called. If it upsets you that much, write a nasty letter to your dictionary.”
“There are no more dictionaries,” he said. “They’re on your phone, now.”
Oh, right. I keep forgetting.
You text them and they deliver definitions to your house.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Scream Truck NJ brings ice cream with just a text