I know I have bored you good people many times with what a kick I get out of vintage cookbooks. Well, brace yourself: I found another dandy one a few days ago. And in leafing through it, I came across a good old childhood memory that I’m sure you share – if, that is, your childhood was in the 1950s, ’60s or ’70s. But let’s begin this little yarn at the beginning.
The cookbook in question, which I found at one of my favourite local places – the Thrift Store on St. Lawrence Street West in Madoc; I have discovered some great vintage treasures there, though you have to be persistent and patient – is one in a series of midcentury (the last century, that is) cooking volumes put out by the Better Homes and Gardens folks. The is one is PIES AND CAKES:
As with all my favourite vintage cookbooks, it’s got a mix of recipes that sound outstanding (the ones for “Mother’s Best Fudge Cake” and “Red Devil’s Food Cake” are what really got me) and disgusting. The worst? Probably “Della Robbia Torte”:
That one was in the book’s section called “New Tricks With Cake Mixes.” Also in that section is this recipe:
Which, as I looked it over, got me thinking: what the heck ever happened to once-ubiquitous Neapolitan ice cream? Is that chocolate-strawberry-vanilla combo still made? Do people still buy it?
And then, as I thought back to the days of my childhood at the Manse, when a brick of Neapolitan ice cream was a pretty common sight on my family’s kitchen table at dessert time, another weighty question came to mind:
What ever happened to ice cream in bricks?
Do you remember how there were both the big bricks – a gallon of ice cream, maybe? – and the small ones? (Was that a pint? What is a pint, anyway?)
Of course I decided to do some field research. Which involved scanning the freezer shelves of our local Foodland store to see if I could find a) Neapolitan ice cream and b) ice cream in bricks. And ideally (for the retro-lover in me) a combination of the two.
And I did! It turns out that the folks at Chapman’s Ice Cream still make bricks, and Neapolitan is one of the flavours:
But all the other ice-cream manufacturers represented on the Foodland’s shelves had moved to the tubs that (I now suddenly remember) started to get popular somewhere in the mid-1970s. And, I am sorry to say, while there were big bricks from Chapman’s, the small ones seem to have disappeared, quite possibly forever.
“So,” you must be asking yourself, “how was the Neapolitan ice cream?” (Because you knew, of course, that I had to buy some.) Well, I’ll tell you. Raymond and I opened up the brick last night, in honour of the visit by our good friend Lynn (which I wrote about here) and also in honour of the final game in the latest instalment of the Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens rivalry – itself a thoroughly vintage thing. And Raymond, Lynn and I had a bowl each.
And it was – well, good. Especially in that it reminded us all of our childhood.
And hey, what’s wrong with that?