So you think ice cream is the favorite summertime refresher? Wrong, Bunky, the list of refreshing cold desserts is a long one. While ice cream may top the list because of its versatility, we have a choice to satisfy your cravings. There is soft serve, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, granita, Popsicles, sorbet and gelato, to name a few.
Time was ice cream parlors were among the most popular places to satisfy your sweet tooth, along with the ice cream trucks. Remember Petersen’s in Riverside? And 31 Flavors? Soft-serve made its way into the list of summertime treats after World War II, with small seasonal businesses devoted to making varied dairy creations.
There was Snowflake in Lyons and, of course, Polar Bear in North Riverside. On the corner of Maple Avenue and 31st there was a frozen custard stand whose name escapes me. There were also Prince Castle stores in Brookfield and Riverside. Brookfield now has two ice cream shops, and Riverside has soft serve at Aunt Diana’s while Empanadus has gelato. I’m sure there are others.
The majority of the products are dairy-based and some lower in fat than others. Frozen custard will include eggs. Perhaps the longest frozen treat in existence, except for frozen ice, is gelato, which dates back to the late 1600s.
Credit Chef Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli with this when he created it to be served in his cafe. Gelato is generally lower in fat, but has more flavoring and includes some sugar. Formerly handmade, gelato became more popular when machines were invented in the 1940s to increase productivity.
Convenience is what makes any of the above great unless you want to make your own. I do remember as a child making ice cream and my mom, pouring fruit juice into molds to make “healthy” Popsicles. You can do your own Slurpee and Slushie variations and be creative. Somewhere in my archives I have a recipe for an adult version of a Slushie. I must dig that out in anticipation of warmer days ahead.
This column has been the result of years of research, and I will add that no one was hurt doing this research but plenty of happiness was achieved. I am glad to hear your favorite types of summer refreshers and flavors. At present, I like pistachio and Irish cream gelatos.