|WOULD YOU BUY ICE CREAM
FROM THIS MAN?
Carvel Ice Cream. I haven’t had it in years and don’t know if I’d enjoy it as much as I used to since I met passionfruit at Villar and old cheese at Eslava — among the other great and unusual artisan ice creams here in Sevilla. But, when I was a kid, I absolutely loved Carvel ice cream. My favorite was a vanilla Brown Bonnet cone — soft-serve vanilla ice cream, quickly dipped in chocolate that set to a hard shell. I know you can now buy that stuff in a jar at the supermarket, but I’m sure it’s not the same. At least not for me.
Tom Carvel founded the company in Connecticut in 1934 and was famous for doing his own advertising. In the ’60s, he was still doing what I thought were really awful radio and TV spots. He ended many of them in his very gravelly voice with what I found to be a pathetic-sounding whine: “Please, buy my ice cream. Thank you.” But, he’s credited with being the “father of franchising” and was also referred to as “patriarch of the world’s biggest mom and pop ice cream parlor.”
|THE MODERN STORE ON CONEY ISLAND AVENUE, BROOKLYN.|
I didn’t even realize Carvel was still in business until The Dowager Duchess and I were driving back after a perfect evening of tea and delicious organic freshly baked zucchini/chocolate cake at the home of her good friends, and we came upon the Carvel store on Coney Island Avenue. We would sometimes visit as a family and I liked going there for a Brown Bonnet when I first got my license (driver’s license, that is; my ice cream license is a hereditary privilege passed to me by The Duchess, who could live contentedly on ice cream and only ice cream). It’s not the same store. But, it’s in the same spot, and it’s about eight times the size. Now, you can actually walk inside. And they have freezer cases filled with ice cream cakes and other desserts and toppings. Those didn’t exist when I was a kid or a young adult. All the store had was a walk-up window… and delicious soft-serve ice cream that you could buy for less than 50 cents.
|JAHN’S. A MUCH BETTER PLACE FOR ICE CREAM.|
Being an ice cream gourmand, The Dowager Duchess preferred Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor on Nostrand Avenue (and so did I). The first Jahn’s opened in The Bronx in 1897. They had an amazingly huge menu, which included “The Kitchen Sink.” At the time, it was served in an aluminum bowl (not much smaller than a sink) filled with every topping and whipped cream, and I can’t remember how many scoops of every kind of ice cream you could want. It was said to serve eight. I shared it once with three friends. (At the time, we all wished we had had four more friends!) There’s only one Jahn’s remaining (in Queens) and the Kitchen Sink now costs $51.95. I’m sure it was well under $10 when I was a kid. (And as long as I’m so sure of everything: To get there, I’m sure we had to walk two miles, uphill both ways — even when my father drove.)
|JAHN’S KITCHEN SINK.
I ACTUALLY ATE A FOURTH OF ONE OF THESE (WHEN I WAS 14)!
A couple of times, I had what was called the “Boilermaker and Helper,” which was meant to serve two or three people. That was — I’m again sure — less than $2. But, I’ve been told by The Duchess that (although I didn’t know it at the time) going to Jahn’s was a splurge for our family of five. My father isn’t here to disagree, so I’ll have to take her word for it. I do know we went there often enough for me (at the time at least) to have memorized the menu.
MOM: Mama used to leave two nickels on the kitchen counter, so Matilda and I could go to the movies. Even that was a tremendous hardship.
DAD: [Dramatic eye-roll.]
MOM: My family was so poor, I never owned a new pair of shoes. I had to wear hand-me-downs from my three older sisters. And they had much bigger feet!
DAD: You had shoes?!?
|PROOF THAT HE, TOO, HAD SHOES (OF SORTS).
ELEGANT DRESS. DO YOU SUPPOSE IT WAS A HAND-ME-DOWN?