My Life in Ice Cream
Author Liz Tuccillo on her rocky road with the irresistible treat.
I first learned that the world could be a wondrous place filled with magical delights when, as a little girl in Brooklyn, I walked up to a Good Humor truck. There, for sale, was a stick of ice cream that had an entire chocolate bar inside of it. Chocolate candy. Inside ice cream. Are. You. Kidding. Me. Good Humor introduced me to joy and awe.
When I got a little older, my sense of well-being and abundance came from the Banana Barge. My father would take my sister and me to Carvel every Sunday and let each of us order the largest thing offered—three towers of ice cream, bananas and chopped peanuts—that we didn’t have to share! The Banana Barge let us know that even though our parents no longer lived together, we were still two of the luckiest little girls in the world. In the backseat of the car with our gigantic ships of melty, messy soft-serve heaven, Carvel was boundless fatherly love.
But then, innocence must be lost. In the ’80s, as a student at NYU, I got a job in an ice cream shop. It was in the West Village, on Christopher Street. I worked in the back of this tiny storefront, where there was an ice cream machine and crates of ice cream mix (we were very proud of our high butterfat content then), and I would put on my kitchen whites and get down to business.
That’s when the mystique melted away. I was a young adult, worried about student loans and my job prospects after graduation, and ice cream was no longer child’s play. I did eat some of what I made during this time. And I did enjoy it, sorta. But eating it was more like a mother finishing her child’s mac and cheese. It was right in front of me. I couldn’t help myself.
And then, eventually, high butterfat was out; light and airy ice cream was in. The winters were long. The store closed. I grew up and was finally able to own an apartment in the West Village, the neighborhood I dreamed I’d live in one day. Ice cream was something easily avoided: I was always on a diet. Dairy made me cough. Plus, I still had the lingering feeling that I had eaten enough for one lifetime.
Then, across the street from where I once worked, a store opened called Big Gay Ice Cream. There was a rumor, whispered delightedly to me by a friend, that they lined their cones with Nutella. What? I went in. The rumor was true. Instead of finishing your ice cream and getting to the bottom of that sad, dry cone, with nothing but maybe a smidge of an ice cream drip to moisten it, your tongue would have a tiny Nutella pond waiting for it. Nutella. Inside an ice cream cone. Are. You. Kidding. Me.
Hello, ice cream. I’m back.
Liz Tuccillo, a former writer on Sex & The City, is the author of He’s Just Not That Into You and How to Be Single.