Posted on February 14th, 2013
Sometimes the reason you can no longer enjoy something is not because it is no longer available to you, or that it has changed in any way, but simply because you no longer enjoy it. Sometimes it’s true: it’s not you it’s me.
So it is with me and soft-serve dip. I have many great memories of enjoying a soft-serve ice cream cone with a quick-hardened shell. As a child my family would take me to an ice-cream stand specializing in dip, with more flavors than I have ever seen offered anywhere else. It was a long-standing tradition–if memory serves me correctly, my grandmother had gone there as a child. We would go in the dead heat of summer when I couldn’t eat my cone faster than it could melt, but also at the very beginning and end of the season when the wind made it so cold you would question why you were standing outside eating ice cream. But we were there to enjoy as much of this seasonal tradition as possible. It was a simple treat unequivocally enjoyed by the whole family.
The menu board in the window was complete with colorful and adorably personified cartoon cones that looked like they were drawn before my grandmother enjoyed her first dipped cone. Each color cone represented a different flavor of dip. The combinations seemed endless: chocolate ice cream with peanut butter dip, twist ice cream with strawberry dip, vanilla ice cream with butterscotch dip, twist ice cream with coconut dip, chocolate ice cream with cherry dip, classic vanilla ice cream with chocolate dip…etc.
I loved the first bite—the very tip of the swirled cone—the most; it had the highest dip to ice cream ratio. I loved the way the ice cream would start to melt and drip out of the tiniest hole in the coating. I loved the first bite of the wafer cone that was soggy with ice cream and had the last bit of dip attached to it. So what I experienced one summer while looking to satisfy a nostalgia craving came as quite a shock.
The first bite was repulsive. It was like a mouth full of wax so grainy with sugar I thought my teeth would fall out. I couldn’t chew it, I couldn’t swallow it, and it certainly wasn’t going to melt—in my mouth or in the 100+ degree weather. Dip abides; it stood up as the ice cream melted from within and the cone underneath sagged with moisture. I started to think maybe I had dip from a decade ago lingering in my body, since it seemed impossible to destroy. I’d like to say that after this experience I never ordered a dip cone again, but I cannot. I want so badly to enjoy it like I do in my memories that I still order one every now and again, hoping to recapture the experience I remember. I don’t know what is different–the dip is the same, and my palate isn’t so matured that I can’t enjoy other seemingly revolting childhood favorites like candy corn. (My love of candy corn is a topic for another day.) I feel somehow that the dip betrays my memories, but I know it’s actually me. Perhaps one day soon I will just order sprinkles. I do still love sprinkles.