Ice Cream, Suckers

Goddamn, Philadelphians. You’re not that stupid, are you? I mean, really, you’re on a line three abreast stretching from Bassett’s Ice Cream in the Reading Terminal Market to well past Pearl’s Oyster Bar. I know it’s hot out, it’s July after all, but don’t you realize that free ice cream is being given away just on the other side of the Market? Course, I don’t mention it to anyone. First tip of big city living–you gotta be quick on the uptake and get yours when and where you can.

And get ours we did. Bassett’s Ice Cream, touted as the oldest ice cream maker in the U.S., was celebrating its 150th anniversary in grand style. Being nice guys, I guess, they invited some other ice cream purveyors into their territory–I spied Capogiro and Franklin Fountain, as well as a few others–but we were focused on the birthday kid.

I’m not much of an ice cream eater, actually, what with a finicky lactose intolerance, but it was impossible to say no to the beautiful ice cream cakes that Bassett’s had made for their celebration. You can check out the cakes and other festivities in this video.. We missed the ice cream shuffleboard and the no hands ice cream eating contest, which looked like torture to the children involved.

The ice cream cakes were marvelous, exponentially better than the Carvel monstrosities of my childhood. One was layered with ladyfingers, and pistachio and chocolate ice creams, a gourmet style confection that I honestly wasn’t expecting from a local ice cream vendor. The other was equally delicious and surprising combination of a fruit flavored ice cream (cherry vanilla?) layered over mint chocolate chip (my memory is hazy, a result of waiting too long to write this post and slipping into old age. Wheel me out into the sun, Mother). Whatever the combination, I wouldn’t have thought to put them together, but it worked splendidly. Best yet, Bassett’s lined nearby tables with cups full of sprinkles, basically my favorite food that is probably made out of completely inedible ingredients. I shook rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, blue sprinkles all over my cake slices, giddy with happiness. We danced our way towards the exit, all to old timey tunes played by a quartet of gentlemen in red vests. City living, 1850 style.

Recommended: Getting free ice cream cake. Oh, did you miss it too? Poor thing. Maybe next year?

About Mary Rizzo

No denying it, I like the sensual things of the world, especially good food and drink, though I'm no snob when it comes to either. A background in American cultural history and food studies makes me approach the world with a desire for contextualization and connection on the way to synthesis.
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