The sign over 263 Amsterdam Avenue boasts 101 Varieties of Yum Yum. The flavor lineup is dazzling— brandy Alexander, cantaloupe à la mode, coconut, bubblegum, peanut butter and jelly, Burgundy punch, Scotch on the rocks—but Yum Yum makes Carvel taste like quality. The claim is 12 per cent butterfat, 80 per cent overrun. It tastes thin to me. Still, at the crossroads of Broadway and 72nd Street, I suspect that giant chocolate-covered banana rocket could be a winner.
The Camel's Hump, 130 West Third Street, usually serves Arabic ice cream, apricot and pistachio—almost solid fruit or solid nuts, glued together by clotted cream and perfume-scented gum arabic. Rich, chewy, unusual and sublime. In late July the heat was on. Literally. And the man who makes ices at Alwan's Oriental Confectionary, 183 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, was on vacation. When he gets back, you can buy it there too.
Stoned and sober they flock to The Ice Cream Connection, 24 St. Marks Place, for a butterfat high on soothing, digestible goat's milk ice cream, sweetened with organic honey, 35 cents a scoop . . . "Tell a friend." The I.C.C.'s Leslie Margulies, second-generation Coney Island, struggles to keep goat's milk ice cream in stock. But he also blends 23 cow-generated ice creams out back—a very rippled fudge ripple, peach brandy with slices of peach, old fashioned apple with bits of fruit and cinnamon. Also Acapulco Gold—peach studded with "hash" (flaked chocolate)—and Panama Red—"hash" plus maraschino and Burgundy cherries in a cherry cream, 25 cents for a generous dip, 5 cents extra for sprinkles. "I'm an existentialist," the Ice Cream Connection says. "I give people a choice." He's 85 per cent into macrobiotics himself. The other 15 per cent is tasting his own ice cream. "Ice cream is a pleasant world," he says. "People don't walk in all uptight the way they do going to buy a $200 Cardin suit." The sign on the wall reads: THE WORLD SO MADE IS STILL BEING MADE AND GETTING MORE BEAUTIFUL EVERY DAY. How does goat's milk ice cream taste? I tried peach. The first taste is peach. The second taste is goat.
". . . Good Humor has had its excesses: prune, kumquat, licorice and that all-time loser, chile con carne ice cream . . ."
The goat taste is more subtle in the papaya ice cream shake blended at Health E Snack, 133 West Third Street. There is also a strawberry shake with organic strawberries, 65 cents. And goat's milk ice cream by the scoop, 35 and 50 cents, in a wheat-germ cone.
When serious ice cream eaters speak of Wil Wright's in Los Angeles, voices crack, eyes mist, nostalgia triggers little orgasmic shivers. Can ice cream be that much better? Loyalists insist Wil Wright's is. Top executives will only say, "There isn't anyone that approaches our butterfat." But a spokesman told New York it is 20 per cent in the chocolate and vanilla, 16 to 20 in the other flavors. Low overrun and quality ingredients enhance that overwhelming sensation of frozen decadence, at a mere $1.10 per pint. Wil Wright's is not available in New York. It is available at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas . . . but that is a rather considerable detour. Martin Perlberg, vice president of the RKO-Stanley Warner Theatres, has it shipped here by air, once a month. All it takes is money—about $8 or so to jet in four pints. And a messenger to rush it to your freezer. Happily, something called Wil Wright's America . . . "fun, food and ice cream" is now being packaged for national franchising.
The Ice Cream Parlor
For the ultimate gross in wickedly opulent glop and an utterly congenial ambiance, nothing surpasses The Flick. To slide deep into the dim caverns of the handsome mahogany, slightly rickety booths, and confront MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, oozing heady butterscotch, marshmallow, hot fudge, crushed pineapple and whipped cream mountains over rolling hills of homemade eggnog, rum raisin and Burgundy cherry ice cream, $2.50. No one can see. It's almost like eating ice cream in a closet. Yes, The Flick has flicks, old-time movies at nine, midnight and 3 a.m., and leggy serving wenches in leotards and pop-up bosoms. I couldn't care less. There are 22-ounce sodas, $2.25; the $14.95 kitchen sink (serves 8 to 10), and 2-cents plain "on the house"—just ask. From 11 a.m. to 6 a.m., 1074 Second Avenue (near 56th). They deliver, too.
Hicks, the venerable fruiterer at 16 East 49th Street, is not the same at all since its manic prankster soda chef, Mr. Jennings, defected after 26 years. And some are grateful: "Don't you notice how quiet it is," the cashier marveled. If you can stand the acoustics (lunch is shrill) and the dialogue ("My mother has pyorrhea," from the next table) and the aqua candy-box décor (hard-edge Viennese Formica), Hicks fruit-laced flaming and hot fudge extravaganzas are a special joy. A crunchy mélange—apple, orange (with pits), pineapple, banana, grape (more pits) and slightly ravaged berries—enhances the flaming robin rose glow ($1.95), a jolly green-and-pink giant topped with an immolated dab of pound cake . . . and lends a wholesome raison d'être to an otherwise sinful deluxe banana split, $2.35 (hot fudge, mint, four scoops of ice cream, unsweetened whipped cream). Sweet and sour and beautifully thirst-quenching is the Lemonsher, with raspberry sherbet and floating berries, $1.65. Hicks hot ice cream soda, $1.65, is, I fear, an acquired taste.