Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ice Cream Social Celebrates Summer

Good Food

Above, here I am enjoying the start of summer and the fringe benefits of blogging about food with good friend, Cheri Liefeld of Adventures in the Kitchen.

The All-American Classic Summer Treat

MBE partnered with Dove Ice Cream for this story

Ask any group of American adults or kids, "What one food do you most associate with summer?"  Nine out of 10 of them will answer "Ice Cream!" with an exclamation point.  I know for sure, that I'm with the majority on that question, and most of you probably are too, so you might not find that statistic so surprising.

But, here's a few things you might not be aware of.  First, that California is the leading producer of ice cream in the U.S. with 136.5 million gallons made.  Also since 1984 when President Ronald Regan -- a Californian -- officially designated it, July has been recognized as National Ice Cream Month.  I'm a transplanted Easterner now living in L.A., so I'm proud of both those associations.

Thinking back to my childhood, I'm not sure if it was the 60s time period or the mores of living on the East Coast.  But, when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey I actually remember eating ice cream only in summer -- never during the rest of the year.

Unlike other kids back then, I actually didn't consider it summer when school let out the third week of June.  For me, the hottest season of the year began officially on the first day the Good Humor man's truck visited my neighborhood.  I can also recall that usually that same weekend the boarded up Dairy Queen on the main road through town would open up for the summer and it became a popular family destination on warm and humid evenings. 

A bit of trivia: Though widely available across America in modern times, Good Humor and Dairy Queen used to be regional brands concentrated primarily in the Northeast.

These summer rituals are my earliest memory of that frozen quintessential treat and one of the things I remember most vividly about my childhood.  To me, ice cream has always meant that the lazy days of summer are here!  Even after my family moved to the West, that love affair with ice cream continued.  In fact,  my very first job as a teenager was working as a server at Baskin-Robbins when I was in high school.

Fast forward a number of decades to the present.  Today, I still love ice cream as much as I did as a child and so does just about everyone else.  So, when Ketchum -- one of the largest PR agencies in the world -- and their client California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) invited me to an event for food bloggers called the "Not So Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social," they had my undivided attention from the get-go. And, guess what?  This soiree was purposefully planned to coincide with the first day of summer on June 21 which resonated with my personal childhood tradition!

Above is Chef Danielle Keene with me at the CMAB Ice Cream Event held in Los Angeles

The CMAB, by the way, are the people behind the bright yellow Real California Milk brand.  The event began with Danielle Keene, Top Chef: Just Desserts Season 1 finalist telling us about all the ways ready-made ice cream can be easily mixed with a variety of unlikely ingredients -- such as fresh ground pepper and smoked salts -- to inexpensively create some really original artisan ice creams of your own.  From my own experience and that of the other ladies who tasted some pretty unusual combinations served that day, I can assure you that the resulting flavors for amazingly scrumptious.  

Watch for another post soon with some of the recipes Danielle shared with us that will also include a fun giveaway contest. To inspire you, here's MommyBlogExpert's Original Chocolate Potato Chip Ice Cream.

The same day of the party I went home and created my own original ice cream that was off-the-charts delicious.   Breyers Mrs. Fields Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream with Whipped Cream and Lays Potato Chips anyone?  This really was good, and now my kids are asking me to make it for them, too!

Now it's your turn. What's your favorite brand and flavor of store-bought ice cream?  And if you are so inclined, what kind of really unusual add-in do you think are/would be really delish with it?

FTC Disclosure:  As mentioned in the above post, I was invited to the California Milk Advisory Board's Not So Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social for bloggers covering food.  I also received a goody bag at this event with an assortment of ice cream themed gifts.  However, these did not influence my post in any way and MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this particular post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every MBE post.