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Friday, July 16, 2010

Today In My Yard ...

I have a few friends that usually get together for most holidays, but this July 4th we were all scattered to the winds. So I decided to invite a few people over today after work for a post-July 4 celebration which included cold beer and banana splits ... what could be more American?!

I borrowed four deck chairs from my landlady (she lives right next door) and scooted them into a rough circle to the side of my duplex. Then I went to the store with my list of ingredients and a few requests from my friends. I arrived back home about 7:15, with 15 minutes to spare before they arrived.

Allyson was the first to arrive and she brought a full case of Coors Light. She was also the friend that made the easiest requests ... could I pick up some pecans because she wasn't a huge peanut fan? And could I try to get bananas that were still a little green? A girl after my own heart, that Allyson ... I was thinking the same thing about greener bananas being a bit bitter and tasting great with all the sweet condiments we'd be using.

As Allyson and I were putting things in bowls, my sturdy-as-a-rock buddy Calvin arrived with three cans of whipped cream ... one chocolate flavored, never seen that! ... and a quart of strawberries ... Calvin feels that strawberry topping never has enough chunks of fruit for his tastes. I didn't have the heart to tell him that a "real" banana split didn't have strawberry topping ... anything to keep Calvin happy.

Calvin had also been an easy-t0-pleaser ... could I pick up some Smucker's Magic Shell for him, that stuff that thickens up when it hits the cold surface of the ice cream? Like I've said, Calvin is an awesome friend, so I purchased both the fudge kind and a bottle of peanut butter-chocolate.

Gail from the office was the last to arrive ... with jars of pineapple and butterscotch toppings in her hands. That was strange ... not for our "project," because pineapple topping is a traditional ingredient in a banana split ... but because she had specificaly asked my to pick it up when I went to the store, thus saving her a trip. "Well," she giggled, "I'll just take these back home for later on." Yeah, I thought, then thanks for contributing absolutely nothing.

Now I'm a perfectionist when it comes to ice cream-related phenomena. A "traditional" banana split is served in a long "boat" with scoops of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream placed between a banana cut length wise. The vanilla ice cream gets topped with chocolate syrup or whatever ... a natural ying-yang of tastes. The chocolate ice cream gets doused with marshmellow creme ... I'm almost weeping as I think about the taste of marshmellow. Finally, the strawberry ice cream gets slathered with pineapple topping. Then it's whipped cream, nuts, and "maraschino" cherries, named for the Italian liquor that used to flavor these plump, sweet cherries with hints of almond and honey.

The creation of the first banana split is credited to an apprentice pharmacist named David Evans Strickler in 1904. It seems the 23-year-old enjoyed coming up with new desserts for the soda shop portion of the Pennsylvania pharmacy where he worked to try to attract students from a nearby college. Other pharmacy soda shops, particularly the Walgreens chain in Chicago, and restaurants in Boston and Ohio helped broaden the popularity of the new ice cream sensation.

So anyway, after opening jars, dirtying a million spoons, and inaugurating a cutting board for the bananas and strawberries, we four friends retired to the yard with beers and plastic ice cream "boats" in hand. We talked about our jobs, our families, and any topic that came up. Then Allyson asked the elephant-in-the-room question, "how much money do you think we wasted on these things when we could have went to the Dairy Shack four blocks over on Vermont?"

Golden vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream ... I hate the cheap "neopolitan" crap ... I found a 2 for $8 special so I figure $12 for the three. Jars of regular chocolate fudge, pineapple, marshmellow, butterscotch, caramel (my indulgence) and strawberry toppings ... roughly $16 at $2.69 each. Two things of Magic Shell ... close to $6. Crushed peanuts and pecan pieces ... about $4 for two little bags. Three cans of whipped cream ... just under $10. Maraschino cherries (with stems) ... $3 for a small jar. Bananas ... $2. Plastic boats and spoons (not a necessity, but part of the "spilt experience") ... $4.

So, there you have it ... $57 for the price of 4 banana splits that would run just under $14 at the Dairy Shack. But, as we all know, the value of good friends and simple times ... PRICELESS!!

POINT OF RANT: But Calvin and I had seconds, so now it doesn't seem so frivolous.

1 comment:

  1. No... no... no... a thousand times no! You can't drink beer with banana splits. Champagne... sure... any rum drink...absolutely... or my personal favorite Jack over ice with a splash of coke. I do think the fifty seven dollars was well spent though... that way you can make them bigger and add more of your favorite toppings. I'm with Calvin... load on the strawberries... traditional or not... lots of strawberries. I'll give you the marshmallow though...mmm-mmm good!