Once again, the Guide brings to you the latest in food holiday madness.  OK!  I guess that is a bit unfair.  I love food.  And I love holidays.  So why not food holidays, right???  So in the past, we have done many derivative holidays Cheese Souffle and Jelly-Filled Donut Day being among them.  But we never have done what I would term as a “cusp” holiday.  Now I am sure you are staring at your electronic devices in utter amazement (as you probably do quite often with this blog).  You could entertain derivative holidays or main holidays, but a “cusp” holiday?  That’s just a bridge too far for you.  But wait!  Don’t leave now!  I haven’t gotten to the good part.  Because no one wants to miss out on ice cream.  And what better way to celebrate life than a little bit of ice cream.  It makes everything better.

Ice cream has always been the most special of the desserts to me.  Of course, I do love many different desserts.  (Who doesn’t love cheesecake after all?). But ice cream was always my favorite.  This goes back to my days as a youth.  (“Yute” for those who have an obsession with My Cousin Vinny.)  I know I have been told this story many times of the being the child who was offered a lick of my mother’s ice cream cone and then never giving it back.  Evidently, I had a death grip as a child.  And my eyes turned into balls of fire when someone tried to take it back.  Ice cream instantly hooked me.

Ice cream, as with all different types of foods, you have to consider the pairings of the foods with the drink that you have.  You know you have heard of wine pairings with a good sea bass.  Or you have seen beer pairings with a good porterhouse steak.  All of those make sense to you.  And you see them more and more frequently on the menus you read at restaurants.  This must be a new trend, you think to yourself.  But you would be wrong.  You just didn’t realize that the original pairing was of the ice cream and soda variety.

Who doesn’t remember the first time you had a root beer float.  There you were watching these other kids sticking big scoops of ice cream in a clear glass and pouring cool, refreshing liquid all over the top of it.  So you decided to do it yourself.  But then you stared at the concoction after they had poured the root beer on top of it and you were unclear what you were supposed to do next.  Were you supposed to drink it?  Were you going to take out a spoon and scoop all of it out?  Or were you going to do a bit of both?  (Definitely a bit of both.)  Finally, you put the straw in the glass and began to suck out the creamy root beer goodness.

You didn’t realize how amazing it would taste when the ice cream cut the hard edge of the root beer and would slide down the back of your throat with a creamy goodness heretofore unknown.  Who created this magnificent concoction you thought to yourself.  Surely, these other little kids could not have been the inventors of such a magnificent libation.  (Because you had an adult vocabulary as a child, of course.)  Who was this amazing inventor of this fabulous drink?  And could you shake his hand?  But those initial thoughts drifted away in the creamy goodness of the float.  And you forgot about this amazing inventor and that handshake.

I know that you feel heartbroken that you were never able to properly thank the inventor of the ice cream soda.  Well, we here at the Guide are here to relieve your suffering and finally bring to light the inventor of this marvelous beverage.  Or whatever you want to call the ice cream soda.  So our staff went out into the universe, scouring the four corners of the internet and every “fake news” site imaginable to bring you the almost completely true story of this beverage.  And help to celebrate the cusp holiday that is national ice cream soda day.


Fake History Of The Ice Cream Soda

Way back in ancient times, which for anyone born in the last 15 years means anything longer than 5 minutes ago, even farther back than the times of soda jerks, there were cream sodas.  For those of you who have tasted that fake A&W Cream stuff in a bottle, they tasted nothing like that.   Cream soda came around in the early 1850s first mentioned by a Michigan farmer by the name of E.M. Sheldon.  He decided for some strange reason that water, sugar, cream of tartar, Epson salts, tartaric acid, eggs, and milk first heated and then cooled and mixed with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda made a nice “effervescent” drink.  (Those were his words.  Not mine.)

Evidently this crazy farmer had popularized this drink enough that by 1865, Alex C. Howell, not to be confused with Alex P. Keaton, patented said drink with some minor changes, and a whole lot of flavor editions. By 1874 it was the hit of carnivals and traveling circuses everywhere.  This sugary drink that would cause amazing feats of energetic wonder followed by crazy energy crashes was the “bees knees.”  Everyone was getting into the market to sell this delicious drink.  You would turn around and there would be another cream soda stand on every corner.  I guess it was the Starbucks of his day.

When the 1874 semi centennial celebration of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia came around, Robert M. Green grew very desperate.  He was on the verge of doing a desperate act to himself (what this desperate act was, no one really knows) as he had run out of cream for sale at the event.  He had all the bicarbonate of soda that he needed but the lack of a key ingredient in the cream soda (namely cream) made him a desperate man.

So Mr. Green ran out into the streets of Philadelphia looking like he was a bum and started asking people if they had any cream left.  In his desperation, he went around screaming at people as they would not give him any cream to use for his sales.  Hence the “I scream you scream, we all scream for Ice cream” chant was born.  (It was really just a misunderstanding of his insane rants.) But that is a whole other subject.

Then Mr. Green started desperately asking (think accosting) anyone who would listen to him about his need for cream.  When along came a little boy named Peter J. Peters.  (This is not his real name.  This is an alias to protect the innocent.  Or it’s made up.  One of the two.)  Peter J. Peters had a big ice cream cone in his hand and a glass of water in the other.

“Hey Mister,” Peter said as he stared at the wide-eyed crazy man that Mr. Green had become. “What’s wrong mister?”

“Your cream.  Your cream.  I need your cream,” the now despairing Mr. Green retorted.

Peter looked down at his ice cream cone and pondered for a minute.  He set his glass of water down and took a handful of the ice cream and put it on top of his glass of water.  Since the cup looked enough like a cone, Peter was very proud of himself as he handed his glass of ice cream water over to the haggard looking Green.

Mr. Green picked up the glass and stared at it a while and put the water to his lips.  And then he sat and stared.  And stared. Then he stared some more.

“Enjoy mister,” Peter said as he was about to walk away.

But Mr. Green had an idea.  A wonderful crazy idea.  He grabbed the boy and lifted him up into the air.  He gave him the biggest kiss and ran back to the celebration with his glass of ice cream water in his hand and a song in his heart.  What happened to Peter J. Peters we will never know.  What we do know is that Robert M. Green ran off to the centennial celebration with a big vat of ice cream in hand and a lot of bicarbonate of soda.  He started dropping the ice cream in the soda, and the rest is history.

Well, except that Mr. Green became very rich.  Instead of earning the usual six dollars a day, the new ice cream soda would yield him 600 dollars a day.  600 dollars is the equivalent of over 12 thousand dollars in today’s money.   $4.3 million a year is not bad for putting ice cream in soda water, right?

 


 

So what do you think of the history of the ice cream soda? Honestly the story is true, mostly.  The names are all right except for Peter.  We don’t know for sure what the inspiration was, but we do know that Robert M. Green needed an idea and he got it.  A brilliant, wonderful idea.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  So given that it’s National Ice Cream Soda day, we here at the Guide wanted to celebrate the ice cream soda by letting you know our favorite ice cream soda places in Southern California.  I know that almost anyone can do an ice cream soda where they are at, but there are certainly places that I have a preference and partiality to their way of doing the amazing fizzy and creamy drink.  So without further ado the Guide presents:

The Top Five Ice Cream Soda Spots In Southern California

5)  A & W Root Beer

This one is probably out of sentimental and nostalgic reasons as much as anything else.  But purchasing one of those large class mugs filled with yummy soft served ice cream and topping it with one of the best Root Beers around and you have an instant classic.  The food at the places is not particularly all that special, but you absolutely have to try this classic before these restaurants disappear entirely.  We used to have a couple in the area and I get goosebumps just thinking of the yummy ice cream goodness in the frosted mug.

 

4) Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop

Located inside Disney’s California Adventure, this truly is a wonderful blend of ice cream and flavors that are difficult to find anywhere else.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Thrifty’s Ice cream, but it’s nice to have real amazing ice cream that is not just from the Thrifty’s variety.  And here among the best attractions in OC you can get yourself an amazing scoop of the richest ice cream you will find anywhere.  Blend that with a little bit of soda, and you have carbonated ice cream heaven.  They do have a soda shop just outside the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood where you can delight in their deliciousness without having to have a paid admission.

 

3) De Soto Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe

Located at Roscoe Blvd. in Canoga Park, there is a soda shop called Jerry’s which has been around since only the mid-90s.  And while it may have only been around a short time it feels like it has been there forever, as part of their larger pharmacy.  Swivel chairs and amazing ice cream are on the menu of the day as they dip their cups in a chocolate coating to add to the spectacular culinary treat.  And what’s more, they have three different types of amazing ice cream including Lappert’s which is a Hawaiian ice cream not often experienced in Southern California.  If you want that 50s feel with some amazing ice cream and soda, you cannot go better than Jerry’s.

 

2) Fosselman’s Ice Cream

In Alhambra for over 91 years, Fosselman’s ice cream has been making ice cream for way longer than I can remember.  But everywhere you go, if you see Fosselman’s on the label you know you are in for a treat.  The greatest thing is that they are still inventing monthly flavors to tempt the palate that you can mix with your favorite soda beverage.  You have to check out their amazing list of rare treats that they provide to you and then say you aren’t hooked by all of the amazing flavors.  It just took me one time and I knew I was in ice cream heaven.

 

1) Watson’s Soda Fountain and Cafe 

In the city of Orange since 1899 Watsons has been a staple in amazing ice cream since that time.  Amazingly they have been around since ordinances were past where you couldn’t sell soda on a Sunday.  I am not sure why people didn’t revolt back then, but out of these laws would eventually spawn the sundae, a mixture of ice cream and toppings, minus the soda.  They have been going strong ever since.  Fresh from a remodel last year, Watsons now has a retro feel with gigantic comfort foods and a counter for yummy ice cream soda goodness.  If you want a place that has the feel of the time where soda jerks became a thing, and amazing food to go with it, you cannot do better than Watson’s at the Orange Circle.

 


Continue The Conversation

So what did you think of the history of the Ice Cream Soda.  Or as my mom would say, poor Pete, right?  And aside from the history, what are some of your favorite ice cream soda places?  And what are some of your favorite ice cream soda flavor combinations?  Do you like a particular type of soda?  Do you like a particular type of ice cream, or is it just plain vanilla?  I would love to know any of your interests, especially if they are unique.  Hey, I used to love peanut butter, pickles, and milk.  And of course I cannot get pregnant.  So I would never say anything to weird and strange flavors.  But that food combination is a whole other story altogether.

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Until next time, food holidays!!!  “Party Time . . . excellent!” (Wayne’s World)

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life