When it comes to food worship, everyone has an idol. For many, a juicy steak paired with a properly aged Cabernet Sauvignon is what drops you to your knees. For others, it may be freshly grilled Maine lobster that triggers a Damascus Road conversion experience. Still others bow down to the golden altar of french fries, chicken wings, and barbecue brisket.
Whatever your individual heart may desire, there’s one food that’s sure to be found behind St. Peter’s heavenly gates. It’s sweeter than salvation and purer than silver or gold. It’s like a lamp to your feet and a light for your path, with flavors as sharp as a double-edged sword.
What is this heavenly nectar, you ask—a food so universally praised, exalted, and glorified by both the calorie conscious and lactose intolerant? I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream—OF COURSE!
With that said, I’m going in search of the holy grail of dairy delights…and where better to make my sacred pilgrimage than to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont. This ain’t no Baskin Robbins castoff. No, this is the real thing—a 900-mile journey to the birthplace of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey.
In the interest of full disclosure, I know I’m heading up to the Green Mountain State right smack dab in the middle of leaf viewing season—but that’s neither here nor there. I assure you that my search for spiritual nirvana and the salve for my sweet tooth remains my singular focus. I’m also fully prepared—armed with the proper discipline, metabolism, and genetic make-up to survive any thousand calorie assault on my cholesterol count and waistline. Bring it on!
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was a bit disillusioned pulling into the factory grounds. When one approaches Mecca, you anticipate enlightenment—or at least neon signs, costumed characters, and a shuttle ride to the shrine entrance. Instead, all I was greeted with was a packed parking lot and a 50-yard trek up to the summit mount.
Once crested, I was met with a veritable madhouse of lost souls, all looking to gain entry into the temple of delight. The line for tickets was longer than eternal damnation. Undaunted, I bite the bullet and settle in for the hour-long wait for my ascent into paradise. Paradise today is relatively affordable. For four dollars a pop, I watch a movie where Ben and Jerry convince me that eating their ice cream makes me the most environmentally friendly, socially conscious, and charitably generous consumer ever to grace the planet. I’m then given a sneak peek behind the veil, where I’m treated to more than I want to know about what really goes into my ice cream.
At the end of the tour, our tour guide—who had obviously given one tour too many—delivers four bad cow jokes before serving the requisite samples to the masses. The flavor of the day involved some foreign concoction right off the assembly line—a strange blend of chocolate and orange that left my taste buds frazzled and my mind totally perplexed and confused.
Was this all there was to it? Had I been hoodwinked into false belief? Were the Ben & Jerry cows really just golden calves? Where were the baptismal vaults of my favorite Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch? Was it truly a flavor forever dead and buried—never to be resurrected?
The only way to seek truth was to taste it. Making my way to the holy kiosk, I go all out and do something I’ve never done before. I order a quintuple scoop. Diabetic coma be damned. You only live once, right? If my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, I’m filling it with caramel swirls and cookie dough.
Obviously, this ordeal did not end well. Excessive pursuits never do. Like many other things in life, moderation is the key. I REPENT! Next time I get a hankering for Ben & Jerry’s, there will be no thousand-mile sojourn to the promised land. A five-minute drive to Kroger is all I’ll ever need. Haagen-Dazs anyone?
John Huang is a retired orthodontist who worships both God and ice cream. He’s currently working with former LEX18 sportscaster Alan Cutler on his new book. If you enjoy his writing, you can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs.
Check out his most recent UK Sports coverage at http://www.themanchesterenterprise.com/category/uk-live-breathe-blue/
Check out his most recent Cincinnati Bengals and other professional sports coverage at http://www.bluegrasssportsnation.com/category/writers/john-huang