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One For The Road A La Mode
by Marjorie Dorfman

What happens if America’s favorite dessert turns out to be a spiked cocktail in disguise? Is it a good thing or no? Take a look and decide, if you dare.

While driving to an appointment very early one morning a few months ago, I turned on my radio for the latest news. I got the tail end of some odd talk show instead, the name and channel of which I never did catch. Their discussion about a new sensation developed by leading food scientists at the University of Minnesota and introduced in Northern Wisconsin captured and held my attention. It’s called "Alcoholic Ice Cream." Yes, you heard me right. Can you imagine that? I was so curious that when I retrurned home I immediately surfed the Internet in search of news articles to confirm what I heard. Much to my surprise, I found one. According to the Minneapolis Business wire, this new "Blend’s" ice cream is now available to a wide variety of Wisconsin retailers, including bars and restaurants, grocery stores, exclusive liquor stores and casinos!

As a drinker myself (my wine is fine almost anytime except after breakfast or when I am behind the wheel of my car), I am not being judgmental about alcohol; that would make me a hypocrite. I am very well aware, however, of the many problems connected with alcohol abuse, particularly the increasing, disturbing numbers of deaths on the road. It is for this reason that I question the sanity of such a product on the consumer market. How could this be a good thing for Wisconsin, or Philadelphia or New York or anywhere else in the world, for that matter?

According once again to the Minneapolis Business wire, the novelty ice cream is manufactured in such a way that the alcohol molecule is stabilized which prevents it from interacting with the ice cystals and milk proteins found in ice cream. For us lay people what that means is that real liquors can be combined with ice cream to create a frozen solid ice cream that will maintain its taste and texture for up to a year. When one considers that a Brandy Alexander Frappe will have as much liquor as a Brandy Alexander cocktail, there’s no question that a few scoops and you’re out, or at least, most of your bases are loaded. I realize that personal responsibiity is a key factor here as it is with everything else, but should one for the road eventually come to mean one more (or two or three for that matter) at the convenience store or the supermarket?

And consider our waistlines with this new ice cream. I’m sure they’d end up a bit wider after a while. I also wonder how this alters the concept of designated drivers. Will they become the ones who get to buy the ice cream or do they just take everybody home after all the indulgers in pink squirrel sundaes have reached the point where they can only see pink elephants? This concept is only amusing when it is not being contemplated on the highway.

I also wonder about legalities. The product cannot be labeled as ice cream for marketing purposes and it must carry a government warning like all other beverage alcohol products. It also has an addtional warning on the package alerting consumers that they are dealing with "distilled spirits." Consider this. One must be twenty-one to vote, eighteen to join the military and how old to buy liquor? How old if the liquor is made with ice cream? Not only does this increase our chances of getting more and more drunk and more and more fat earlier and earlier in our lives, but we may also need more and more lawyers to drink with us more and more often! With all of the problems related to abusive drinking that are already out there, infecting a favorite indulgence like ice cream is sacrilegious! Since ice cream is uniquely an American invention, this practice is indirectly unpatriotic as well!

I’d argue the point further but its almost cocktail time. I’ll stick to my wine, neat if you please. I’m sure I would find a Whiskey Cream or a Grasshopper Sundae delicious and most gratifying, but the real question is: would I be out from under the table before Tuesday?

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Copyright 2004