When I was a girl, my family had a regular, summertime ritual on Friday nights. After supper, my dad would say, “Does anyone want to go to Bonnie Doon’s?” Bonnie Doon’s was a drive-in in Mishawaka, Indiana, about 20 miles from our house and known for their good sandwiches and service, but most of all, for their great ice cream.
Photo from Bonnie Doon website by Tim and Kim K.
My brother, Jeff and I would sit in the back seat of our dad’s blue station wagon and play the old rock, paper, scissors game to pass the time during the drive. We would discuss which parts of the banana split we liked the best. Was it the chocolate ice cream covered with crushed pineapple or the strawberry ice cream decorated with strawberry sauce with real strawberries in it, or the vanilla ice cream splashed with chocolate syrup? Was it the split banana covered with all three ice cream flavors? Or maybe it was the cloud of whipped cream, sprinkled with chopped nuts and the cherry on top. Looking back, I think the anticipation was almost as good as the actual ice cream.
Photo from Bonnie Doon website by Adam C.
When we arrived at our destination, my dad would push the button on the tray next to the lighted menu and order four banana splits and also four waters…because everyone needs a drink of water after eating ice cream. We would sit in the car listening to the radio and after a short time which seemed to take forever, the car hop would bring our tray loaded down with four beautiful banana splits and four paper cups of water and hook it to my dad’s partially rolled down car window. Oh the joy…
July is National Ice Cream Month. And this is the cool part.
A man named Stratton Leopold opened Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia in 2004. Almost 100 years earlier, his father, Peter, and his uncles, George and Basil, had opened the first Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah. The first ice cream shop was open for 50 years and it is said that back in the day, the streetcar operators would stop and wait while their riders hopped off and bought a cone from Leopold’s.
So, Stratton reopened the family business as a way of honoring his father who believed in hard work and a good product. Then in 2010, Stratton and his wife, Mary, created the “I Pledge for Ice Cream” Project, which is a national ice cream event to promote patriotism among school children. They were given the idea by one of their regular customers. Kids 12 and under, can get a free ice cream cone on July 1 of every year simply by going into their local ice cream shop and reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance” from memory.
Mary and Stratton Leopold
As of today, there are 109 ice cream shops in 36 states who are participating in the “I Pledge” Project. Some stores participate on July 1st from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., and others extend it to one day a week throughout the month of July. Local ice cream shops interested in participating can sign up at www.ipledgeforicecream.com and can participate for free, except for the cost of the ice cream they give away.
Sadly, for those of us in Texas, there is currently only one ice cream shop participating in the program…Amy’s Ice Cream in San Antonio. Check out the “I Pledge” website to see if there are any participating ice cream shops in your area. And, you can nominate your favorite local ice cream store like I did. Come on Beth Marie’s…how about it?!
What a cool way to celebrate National Ice Cream Month, children, America and patriotism!
Photo of the ice cream lovers and the blue station wagon
*And, for those of you who are wondering, here are the top ten ice cream flavors in our country according to the Food Channel website, www.foodchannel.com:
3. Butter pecan
6. Chocolate chip
7. French vanilla
8. Cookies and cream
9. Vanilla fudge ripple
10. Praline pecan