One of the things I love about winter is peppermint ice cream. I’m not a big fan of ice cream generally, but I do have a few favorite flavors—peach in the summer, peppermint in the winter, and rich chocolate any time. These days, I typically buy the low-fat versions, but they are never as good as the old-fashioned ice cream I remember from childhood.
I can only find peppermint ice cream in the winter months. I don’t want mint chocolate chip, I want the pure peppermint, with chunks of candy in a vanilla base. Around Thanksgiving each year, I begin looking for it in the grocery store.
Most years I’ve bought Edy’s slow churned, which is of the low-fat variety. I couldn’t find the Edy’s this year, so I bought Belfonte Mama’s Choice Peppermint Stick premium ice cream (Mama approved, it says on the label). I brought home a half-gallon and happily announced to my family that it was in our freezer.
It turns out, I’m the only one who is really fond of peppermint ice cream, though my husband will eat it “to save you from yourself,” he says. I’d never realized I was the only peppermint aficionado in the house.
One bite of the Belfonte Peppermint Stick, and my childhood returned to me. The ice cream is rich and creamy, with big pieces of peppermint candy, just like I remember from my preschool years.
As I savor the Belfonte this winter, I remember Percy Murray’s Klamath Falls Creamery in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where my grandparents bought me the first peppermint ice cream I ever tasted. Mr. Murray and his family were good friends of my maternal grandparents, so my grandparents patronized the Klamath Falls Creamery for all their dairy products.
I actually remember Mrs. Murray, Percy’s wife, more than I remember him. I called her Mrs. Mur-mur, and rode in the back seat of her Cadillac sitting on the arm rest in the middle. (No requirements that children be restrained in car seats in the late 1950s.)
Mrs. Mur-mur invited me to the first tea party I ever attended. And she gave me real tea, just like the grown-up ladies got! (Mine had a lot of milk in it, but there was also real tea in my china cup.)
My grandfather probably brought the peppermint ice cream home for us to eat after dinner. But I also remember sitting at a counter to eat it in an ice cream store. My father tells me I must be thinking of Binkley’s Ice Cream Store on Main Street in Klamath Falls, just east of the Klamath Variety Store on 9th and Main. All I remember is the brightly lit shop and the cool peppermint ice cream.
Both Percy and his wife have been dead for decades, though Mrs. Mur-mur lived well into her nineties. The Klamath Falls Creamery is now a brewery and restaurant. Binkley’s Ice Cream Store is long gone. Some things do not remain the same.
But when I take a spoonful of my Belfonte Peppermint Stick ice cream now, its rich creaminess slides over my tongue just like Percy Murray’s did when I was three. And when I bite into the crunchy candies, I get the same sharp burst of cool/hot mint that I did then. As I eat, the more than half-century of my life since that first taste drifts away. I am enchanted by the flavor now, as I was then.
What tastes bring back memories of your early childhood?