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What’s a huckleberry?

  “I ate some really good huckleberry ice cream,” I told four Grands after one asked what I had eaten while Husband and I took a bus tour through parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.  “Huckleberry?  Like the boy in the book?  What’s his name?” one Grand asked. 

Another Grand answered. “Huckleberry Finn.  Was it his favorite kind of ice cream?”

Before we could discuss possible connections between Huckleberry Finn and huckleberries, my Grands asked more questions.  “What’s a huckleberry?  Do we have them?  What’d the ice cream taste like? Did you eat it a lot?”

Huckleberries are small purple berries that grow wild in the Pacific Northwestern United States. They thrive in the regions of the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park, but don’t grow naturally in Tennessee.

Huckleberry ice cream is delicious and unique – a flavor combination of dark sweet grapes and cherries. I wish I’d eaten a lot.

Before leaving for this trip, several people told me to eat huckleberry ice cream so I was eager to try it. Husband and I spent the first afternoon walking around downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, where I expected to see ice cream parlors, but didn’t, and huckleberry ice cream wasn’t available at the restaurants where we ate for two days.

We made stops in Gillette and Sheridan, Wyoming, and stayed overnight in Billings, Montana, and I only found individual package ice cream treats, like in our local stores.  On to West Yellowstone, Montana, a small town, population 1090, and I spotted an ice cream truck parked on a street corner.

As Husband and I walked to a local 1950s style restaurant for supper we passed the truck, and I checked out the flavors.  Yes, huckleberry was on the list!  “That’s my dessert!” I said.  What I didn’t notice was the operating hours and an hour later, the ice cream truck was closed.

After a day in Yellowstone Park, we stayed in West Yellowstone another night.  At suppertime we walked to the ice cream truck, and  I ordered two scoops of huckleberry ice cream.  The young lady apologized, “I’m sorry.  We’re out of huckleberry.”

To go with my supper, cheeseburger and cheese-covered tater tots, and to drown my disappointment, I drank a huckleberry soda pop that tasted like a Nehi grape soda, except sweeter.  Never again.

Our last overnight stop was Jackson, Wyoming, well-known for antler arches on its town square corners and its ski slopes.  Surely, a resort town of 10,000 would also have ice cream shops on every corner.

Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream Shop was on a side street and at the top of the flavors list was Wild Huckleberry.  I didn’t celebrate until I held two scoops in a waffle cone. Husband and I sat on a park bench, near an antler arch, and I slowly licked and savored that delicious ice cream. 

            Huckleberry Finn and huckleberries? Because huckleberries are small, the word ‘huckleberry’ was used to refer to something small or unimportant. Some scholars think Mark Twain had that in mind when he named Huckleberry Finn.

Eat More Ice Cream and Celebrate

In honor of National Ice Cream month, my Facebook friends shared their favorite flavors. Chocolate Chip Mint.  Butter Pecan.  Vanilla.  Rocky Road. Fig.  Pralines and Cream.  Coconut.  Butternut.  Chocolate.  Peach.  Cookies and cream. Banana.  Spumoni.  Bubble gum. Peanut Butter Chocolate.

            Some were specific.  Baskin Robbins Nutty Coconut.  Stellar Coffee at Cream City Ice Cream.  Blue Bell Salted Caramel at Cole’s Store. Dark Chocolate at Lazy Cow.  Fudge at Mackinac Island.  Brown Butter Bourbon Truffle by Kroger’s Private Selection.  Mayfield Chocolate.

            Several friends chose homemade: anything homemade, vanilla, strawberry, and peach.  I agree homemade is delicious. Is homemade ice cream really better than that bought in a carton or is the experience of making it and scooping it from a tall cold metal cylinder is what makes it so good?    

            Not one friend named my favorite flavor:  Burgundy Cherry that is sometimes available at Cream City and Baskins Robbins. 

            What ice cream flavors are the most popular in the United States?  According to an article published by Newsweek magazine on May 25, 2021, chocolate is the first choice – followed closely by vanilla.  Plain chocolate and plain vanilla.  That’s really not surprising.  Flavored toppings and nuts and candy and almost anything can be added to chocolate or vanilla to create unique tastes. 

            Toppings brings to mind sundaes and banana splits.  When I was young, Mom, Dad, and I often went to the Dairy Queen on Sunday nights and I always ordered a sundae.  Dad teased that I could only eat sundaes on Sundays, and he had me fooled for a long time.  I hate the slimy texture of bananas, but add ice cream, chocolate syrup, and toasted pecans, and even a banana tastes good.

            Do you eat ice cream in cone or a cup?  Kids choose cones and adults usually choose cups. My friend, Mary Jo, reminded me of the days of past when drug stores sold ice cream.  She remembers buying an ice cream cone for a nickel at the drug store on the square in Livingston, TN. For a dime, she could get a double dip cone.  An ice cream cone for a nickel or dime – those were the days.

             Recently, I took one of my Grands to get ice cream and ordered a two-scoop cone, just like hers – two flavors I’d never eaten.  As we sat and talked and licked ice cream, I declared that ice cream tastes better in a cone.  “Why do you think that’s the only way I eat it?” my Grand asked.

            And why eat only a few flavors?  It’s time to try some suggested by friends and some unusual flavors.  I’d eat Pickled Mango that’s available at an ice cream shop in Ohio, Lobster flavor in Maine, and Creole Tomato in New Orleans. 

            Anyone tried Cheetos ice cream? Vanilla ice cream rolled and dipped in crunched Cheetos, aka Cheeto dust, is sold at a New York City ice cream shop. We could try this at home.  

            It’s July.  Everyone celebrate and eat ice cream!

You Let Them Do What?

Who serves ice cream for breakfast? Who lets children jump on furniture? Who watches the same movie fifteen times? Who pays children for jobs that don’t even need doing?

We grandparents plead guilty. Not all grandparents to all charges, but some.

I asked Facebook friends what do grandparents let grandchildren do that they as children weren’t allowed to do. And friends responded.

So many breakfast choices. Caroline’s grandfather served ice cream topped with Fruit Loops and told her mother that they ate cereal.   Nell’s grandchildren eat fudge for dessert after breakfast and her own children never heard of breakfast dessert. Karen’s mother made chocolate pie and chocolate pudding for her grandchildren’s breakfasts. Grandparents offer sugar-coated cereal to grandchildren and parents say it wasn’t even in the house when they were young.

Milkshakes with sprinkles are a meal and one grandmother even serves ice cream to her grandchildren for any meal – not as dessert, as the meal. Sara’s mother keeps mini ice cream sandwiches and brown cow ice cream bars, just for the grandchildren. And if grandchildren don’t like what is served for supper, they can refuse and choose something else.

Laura’s parents give her middle-school age children chocolate candy every afternoon when they pick them up after school. Laura said, “They create nothing jobs and overpay the kids for the made-up jobs.” Looking back, Laura should’ve known what to expect. When her firstborn was two, he colored on her parents’ white bookshelf and television screen, and her parents said, “It’s okay. If it doesn’t come off, we’ll buy new ones.”

Grandchildren jump on beds and if they jump onto a CD player, it’s okay.   One grandmother admits that she protected an antique coffee table and her daughters weren’t allowed to put their feet on it. But her grandchildren sit in small chairs and eat at that table, with placemats, of course.

Brenda admitted that her grandson eats what he wants, when he wants, goes to bed when he wants, chooses television programs and movies, and has her undivided attention. And grandparents are shoppers. When they shopped, Deloris’s grandmother always bought her a new outfit and any toy she wanted. Grandparents take gifts to grandchildren every time they visit.

To go one generation further, one great-grandmother didn’t allow her children in the fancy living room. And when grandchildren opened their Christmas gifts in that room, no food or drinks were allowed. But that room is the great-grandchildren’s gymnastics room where they turn somersaults and pretend to be airplanes. And it’s okay to eat cookies and drink juice in the living room.

So what do parents think of grandparents relaxing the rules? Here are my two favorite comments: I didn’t get to eat ice cream for breakfast, but I’m happy Mom lets my kids! Let it be said, I fully intend to do the same when my tribe grows up and brings me some grandbabies!

All parents may not agree, but I hope my Grands’ parents do.

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