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The Cold Facts About Ice Cream

By Jerry Zezima

As a journalist, I have always enjoyed getting a scoop. As an ice cream fan, I recently got a scoop that turned out to have a chilling effect: it’s hard to eat this sweet treat when the air temperature is colder than your ice cream.

That’s the lesson I learned when I took my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly for their first ice cream outing of the season.

Also on this arctic expedition were my wife, Sue, and our younger daughter, Lauren, the girls’ mother.

According to the weather app on my phone, it was 42 degrees. But with the windchill, the nefarious meteorological gauge designed to make hapless ice cream lovers even colder, the “real-feel” temp was at the freezing mark: 32.

This did not deter Chloe, who gazed up at me with wide eyes and pleaded, “Poppie, let’s go for ice cream!”

To which Lilly added, through chattering teeth, “Come on!”

Then, in unison, they sang, “You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

I felt like screaming when my nose hairs started to stiffen in the brisk breeze.

But I didn’t want to disappoint the girls, who the previous week had missed the ice cream truck’s first appearance of the year.

We were in their house when the chirpy yet annoyingly monotonous jingle rang outside.

“Poppie, the ice cream truck!” Chloe shrieked.

“Let’s go!” Lilly chimed in.

I ran outside in my stocking feet (I wasn’t actually wearing stockings, which are a lot more stylish than the smelly socks I had on) only to see the ice cream truck rounding the corner.

“No!” cried Lilly.

“Run after it, Poppie!” urged Chloe.

I didn’t want the girls to think their big, strong grandfather has tender tootsies, which is really the case, but I convinced them that I had a better chance of running down the truck — without, I fervently hoped, being run down myself — if I went back inside and put on my sneakers.

I emerged shod in shoddy shoes, which didn’t do any good because the truck didn’t seem to be returning. Still, I heard its faint song playing on the next street.

“Call for the ice cream man to come back, Poppie!” Chloe begged.

“Yell!” Lilly yelled.

I took a deep breath and, with all my hot air, shouted, “Ice cream man, come baaaaack!”

He didn’t hear me. A moment later, I saw the truck roll down an intersecting street on its way to another neighborhood.

The girls were crestfallen. I was, too, since I had a sudden hankering for a vanilla soft serve.

That’s why, when I had the chance to redeem myself and play ice cream hero (as opposed to ham and cheese hero), I said what I always say when the girls ask me for something: “Of course!”

You can’t say I’m not a strict grandpa.

So the girls and I, along with Sue and Lauren, went to a nearby ice cream parlor where Chloe and Lilly are regular summertime customers.

The only problem was that it isn’t summer. It’s spring. And it felt like winter. Or at least fall.

We had the four seasons. I’m surprised Frankie Valli wasn’t along for the ride.

Lauren and the girls got out of their car; Sue and I got out of ours. We went to the window and ordered a vanilla soft serve cone with rainbow sprinkles for Chloe; a cup of chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles for Lilly; and a cup of vanilla soft serve without sprinkles (because I was driving) for yours truly.

Sue, who has ice cream for dessert every night after dinner (she puts it in the microwave for eight seconds), was too cold to order a cup. So was Lauren.

I was a tad chilly myself, even though I wore a fleece that wouldn’t have prevented a polar bear from freezing to death.

So we all piled into Lauren’s car, which had the heat on, and spooned, licked and slurped our sweet treats in the first outing of the season.

Here’s another scoop: ice cream is always better when it’s warm enough to sit outside and eat it.

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of six books, Leave It to BoomerThe Empty Nest ChroniclesGrandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent AdventuresEvery Day Is Saturday and One for the Ageless, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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