Favorite Things: Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop

Growing up in Lansing, Michigan may not have provided gustatory excellence where restaurants were concerned, but when it came to ice cream, that town has always served it up. Barn Hills, where every kid wanted to have a birthday party, had a candy counter that rivaled its ice cream. The showstoppers were huge jawbreakers in glass containers, so enticing they could drive a kid to lie, cheat and steal to get one. I confess that at Bobby Fata’s birthday party there, we played Pin the Tail on the Donkey for a giant jawbreaker, and I could see through my blindfold. I didn’t tell a soul. I pinned the tail right where it belonged and walked off with the prize.

The Country Parlor was another late great ice cream haunt, one of those places that had a 30-scoop sundae and gave t-shirts to anyone who ordered and finished it. Then there is the Tasty Twist, the ultimate soft-serve which is so dear to my heart that I’m going to hold off on saying more now, for a dedicated post at another time.

My favorite, though, was Melting Moments in East Lansing. The homemade ice cream was ahead of its time, among the first of them to fold Oreo cookies into the mix and make everybody a little crazy. I loved the stuff so much that I wanted to work at the shop during the summer after I graduated from high school.

Mom tried to dissuade me. Just because you like to eat the ice cream doesn’t mean you have to work there, she said. This wasn’t because she didn’t want me to have the experience, but likely because the shop was all the way across town from where we lived. As low man on the totem pole, I worked the late shifts and had to clean and close up shop, a task that had me walking out the door well after midnight. There was not going to be any walking to my car alone at that hour, so my mom would come and get me. But Dad didn’t want her driving across town alone at that hour, so my sister would come with her. You can see how things got out of hand.

At first I was thrilled with the whole situation. I mean, who wouldn’t want a free waffle cone filled with your choice of ice cream every day? But after a week of battering up the waffle irons for the cones and coming home smelling like a waffle cone myself, I started to take a pass on the free cone at the end of my shift.

Then came the harsh reality of working an ice cream counter: scooping the rock-hard flavors. The warm water bath for the scoops was far from enough to cut into the big buckets of ice cream. Vanilla was especially solid, and of course the flavor most often ordered in pints. My scrawny arm rejected my will; there was no mind-over-matter to be employed as tendonitis set in and I could barely lift the freezer display lid, let alone scoop the ice cream. When someone ordered a pint of vanilla, I told him that the Oreo was especially good that day and wouldn’t he like a taste?

When I discovered ice cream scoops with a fluid in them that warms their metal exterior and cuts through cold ice cream like butter, it was a game-changer. I bought two for myself and one for everyone in the family and wanted to supply every ice cream shop I went into with the things. I used to get them at Crate & Barrel, but now I get the Zeroll scoop from Williams-Sonoma.

The only downside to the scoop is that it makes access to a bowl of ice cream that much faster and easier, which can be in direct conflict with the healthy voice on your shoulder, reminding you that you just had some yesterday…

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12 Comments

  1. Diane Nassir (My maternal grandmother was an Abowd) on February 7, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Maureen, first off, can you hear me laughing all the way from NM? And, second, you ALWAYS push those buttons from childhood. While I never worked in an ice cream store, I, as every child does, LOVED going to them–it was the treat of treats! And, I always wondered HOW anyone behind the counter had the muscles to scoop that rock hard ice cream–I knew I could NEVER do it. xxxx, Cousin Diane

    • Maureen Abood on February 7, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      Wish I had had your good sense not to try and scoop, Diane! It was awful, and same thing happened when I was in culinary school, from repetitive motion. I guess I’m just not cut out for the restaurant kitchen!! Thanks for sharing, dear one.

  2. Jerry Wakeen on February 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Yes, buttons pushed alright.
    Dad had a grocery store, half a block up was the famous La Crosse Wisconsin “Sweet Shop”, they made their own ice cream, candies, malts, etc.

    The owner and dad got together, dad would not sell ice cream, they wouldn’t sell groceries or fruit or the like.
    They came to our store to buy their bananas for banana splits, we went there for our candy and ice cream.
    The Sweet Shop had two high school named dish Sundays, the Logan High and the Aquinas High. I went to Aquinas but preferred the Logan High ice cream dish, better toppings.

    Among the various ice cream flavors they made was “grape nut” ice cream. Yes, grape nuts from a cereal box mixed in with the ice cream. Don’t knock it till you try it. I think they still make it.

    The sweet shop was also a source of entertainment. If you stood outside and looked through the big glass window, while one of the elderly partners bent over to scoop ice cream, you could often see his toupee tip forward each time he bent over to scoop from a rather deep ice cream well. We kids would die laughing, outside of course. If he saw us laughing that meant we couldn’t go inside for the rest of that day.

    • Maureen Abood on February 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      That is hilarious Jerry!!! You could write a book about your childhood in La Crosse, and I’d love to read it!!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kristen English on February 7, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    I loved the Country Parlor and Melting Moments!

    • Maureen Abood on February 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      Those were the days!

  4. Tom Wright on February 9, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    In the summer when I was around seven or eight I used to walk to town to take swimming lessons at the local Y. Afterwards, barefoot and wearing only my swim trunks and my towel around my neck, I’d go visit my Grandma Katie. She owned a beauty shop that was frequented by all the old ladies in Beatrice. I would suffer through being towed around to say hello to each and every one of them trying to be polite and patient knowing when it was all over there would be a reward. Finally Grandma Katie would go the the cash register and withdraw a dime. I’d head out the door, cross the alley and go into Penner’s Drugstore where Peggy would serve up a double dip strawberry cone. This is where I learned that a smile and a little patience can really pay off. Even if you walked home smelling like a permanent.

    • Maureen Abood on February 9, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      One of the many reasons why I love you, Mr. Wright. Your stories are a ceaseless source of fun and charm. When will you write your memoirs about growing up in Nebraska? You’ve got all of the stories right up your sleeve…. Let’s talk soon.

  5. Roger Toomey on February 10, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    My wife introduced me to the “cookie scoop”. It is actually a small ice cream scoop that dips the perfect amount of cookie dough and has the sweeper that pushes it out and onto the cookie pan for baking. So much faster than a spoon and every cookie is the same size.

    • Maureen Abood on February 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Love that precision, Roger!

  6. Diane Spaniolo Gallagher on February 11, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Oh, my, Maureen, I can just picture your dear mom coming across town at midnight to pick
    you up. And Country Parlor, loved the place. Thanks for the memories. Diane

    • Maureen Abood on February 12, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      Diane, my mom reminded me of how she was circling round the block again and again waiting for me and got stopped by the EL police, wondering what on earth she was doing…. Thanks for your note, xo to you!!

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