If ice cream doesn't give you a headache, this column will
Strangeness, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. For example, I always shake my head when someone sits down with a steaming hot cup of coffee on a day when the temperature is only a few degrees less than the coffee itself.
However, I do not see anything wrong with having a couple of dips of ice cream on a day so cold that penguins are walking around wearing parkas, ski caps and mittens.
Actually, eating ice cream in arctic weather does have an advantage. As I walk down the street, I don't have to worry about the ice cream melting and dripping on my own parka or that of a passing penguin.
It almost makes up for the startled stares I get from passers-by and the fact that they must be thinking, "What the heck is this clown doing eating ice cream in a snow storm?"
I have an answer for that question. I am an "ice creamaniac," and if there is a cure or a 12-step program for that problem, I don't want to know about it.
As you can tell by my willingness to freeze my gizzard in the middle of a blizzard, I am willing to suffer pain to my body and damage to my already shaky reputation to pursue my passion.
I learned early on that no gain in ice cream eating comes without a bit of pain. I am referring to that occupational hazard of the ice cream headache or "brain freeze."
Since my brain usually functions as though it were encased in a block of ice, you would think that I might be immune to this ice cream side effect.
Alas, this is not the case. Whatever natural tolerance I might have is more than overcome by my greed. Once I start attacking a couple dips of ice cream on a cone, I am relentless.
That's when my brain yells, "Ouch!" That pain is enough to stop my assault on the ice cream for 10 to 20 seconds, and then when the headache ends, I do the same thing all over again.
(I was going to show off and mention that an ice cream headache's scientific name is "sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia." However, typing that medical term gave me a headache.)
At least ice cream headaches are not a problem at home, thanks to a tip my Dad gave me when I was a greedy, ice cream-scarfing kid. He told me to keep a glass of water on hand while I was eating the frozen treat.
This functioned sort of like a pit stop in NASCAR does. I would eat ice cream as quickly as I could, get a headache, pull into the pit for a quick sip of water to get rid of the headache and head back onto the cone at full speed.
Some people can gobble all sorts of flavors of ice cream. I am not a snob, but I do have my favorites and not-so-favorites.
For example, my first frozen disappointment was tutti frutti. I must have heard the name in a cartoon and liked the sound of it. I bugged my Mom to buy me a cone of tutti frutti ice cream. I licked into it excitedly and immediately discovered that it contained candied bits of cherries, pineapples, raisins and nuts. At the risk of offending those of you who are "tutti fruttists," tutti frutti ice cream is nothing much more than frozen fruitcake.
Coffee is also not one of my favorite ice cream flavors. Let's put it this way: I don't care for flavors in my coffee and for coffee in my flavors. Give me a cup of plain coffee, non-vanilla, non-hazelnut. It may be iced, but never frozen.
As a semi-geezer, I find that my childhood preference for chocolate has shifted to vanilla. However, the rest of my favorites are unchanged.
Bittersweet ice cream, vanilla infused with bittersweet bits, used to be a local dairy favorite, but that true flavor is found only by making a pilgrimage to Maurer's Dairy and Ice Cream Shop in Shamokin.
Vanilla is also the primary ingredient in another one of my favorites - white house ice cream. As a kid, my favorite parts of fruit cocktail were the maraschino cherry halves. What could be better than a whole bunch of maraschino cherries surrounded by vanilla ice cream?
I've always been partial to fruit-flavored ice cream; just not tutti frutti-flavored ones. Strawberry has always been a good choice, but black raspberry has been even a better one.
In recent years, I've discovered something that I did not think was possible - an improvement on black raspberry ice cream. This was done by some brilliant ice cream scientist who added bits of dark chocolate.
But if I were stranded on a desert island, the one dessert I would wish for would be teaberry ice cream.
When used in mints, the flavor is called wintergreen. One of my sisters-in-law prefers to think of teaberry tasting like frozen Pepto-Bismol. That just means more teaberry for me.
Just thinking about it has sparked me to action. I am going to get a carton of teaberry ice cream and a big mug of water to calm down the ice cream headaches that are sure to occur.
But that's OK. When it comes to teaberry ice cream, no sacrifice is too great.
(Walt Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)