Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Have Yogurt, Will Travel

In Kauai, it was on the Kuhio Highway, just three blocks from our hotel. In Bloomington, it was a couple miles away from the university. We hit it on the way into town, and then again when we left, twelve hours later. In Wooster, Ohio, it was near the Rubbermaid Factory, and in Portland, Maine it was across Casco Bay on Cottage Road.

Some people seek out swanky bars when they visit a new city. Others look for local cuisine, or celebrity houses, or the world’s tallest toothpick statue. I’m what you might call a frozen yogurt connoisseur.

Now, not just any frozen yogurt, mind you. In a pinch, sure, I’ll take a scoop of chocolate-peanut butter or heath bar crunch. But give me a chocolate/vanilla swirl soft-serve in a cake cone, and I’ll be yours forever.

I never developed a taste for ice cream – it’s too creamy, I tell my friends to looks ranging from quizzical to horrified. Give me live cultures any day. In the mid-80’s, hard yogurt was the norm. There was the Kemp’s vanilla fudge in my grocer’s freezer that tended to sit for weeks or months after it made its way into our cart, and the pretzel cones filled with peach bassets from Bredenbeck’s Bakery in the next town over. But something about it wasn’t quite right.

Then I discovered soft-serve. It was at Hilary’s Ice Cream Shop, in the Elkins Park Square. They didn’t install the machines until after we moved to the area, so when my parents took us there the night they told us we were moving, I had to settle for hard vanilla yogurt with pretzels on top. It didn’t do much to cure the leaving-Mt.-Airy blues.

Of course, even with the advent of soft-serve, you still have to be selective. Let’s face it, some twists are just better than others. There’s the corner ice cream shop near my parents’ old house, where the vanilla is too flecked. It dominates the chocolate, and always ends up sagging to the left. The Haagen-Dazs on Waikiki Beach tastes like chalk and in the student center at University of Wisconsin, it’s so creamy, you might as well be eating ice cream.

It’s rare that you find that ideal cone, the precise blend of chocolate and vanilla, perfectly shaped with just the right consistency. Dairyland in Manayunk comes close. That’s the one with the crooked cone on the sign that used to be down the street from the straight-coned shop, until they switched places with Rita’s Water Ice and now reside on Main Street.  But even after years in business, they’re still working on their sizing. Sometimes they flub the yogurt-to-cone ratio, and you’re left unsatisfied. TCBY is great for road trips, because it’s the same everywhere you go. And occasionally, even they surprise you. Take the store in Southington, Connecticut. They have chocolate waffle cones.

My dad and I have spent years searching for the perfect cone. Whether it’s a college visit to Boston, a swim meet in Lancaster, a family vacation to Hawaii, or a dash through the Atlanta airport, a trip isn’t complete without at least one cold, sweet, black and white delight. It didn’t start as a mission, or even a conscious effort. One morning, we just woke up and realized that it was our destiny. We would find the perfect cake cone of chocolate/vanilla soft-serve frozen yogurt, or die trying.

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5 responses to “Have Yogurt, Will Travel

  1. denise December 7, 2010 at 9:36 am

    don’t have a taste for ice cream? i wish!!! i grew up having a bowl of ice cream every single night before bed. i can’t buy it now b/c i’ll eat it all! and i don’t like soft soft. i like hard ice cream, in a bowl. no cone. with rainbow jimmies. mmm.

  2. janae@hungryrunnergirl.com December 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

    THIS POST MADE MY DAY!! I am absolutely obsessed with soft-serve and with a cake cone….even better. I was drooling as I read this and thinking how similar we are ha!

    P.S. Thanks for the 3 p’s! Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Julie (A Case of the Runs) December 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I’d go for yogurt over ice cream anyday! You’ve got the right idea!

  4. Kari w/ Jogging with Fiction December 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I love this post! It’s funny because I really hated ice cream for that reason for my entire childhood. I’ve only recently started liking it. Yogurt is a million times better though.

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