Meandering through my brain the last few days to discover a suitable topic to chat about on my 31-month anniversary of widowhood, I came up with the number 31. As in 31 flavors. Probably because I’ve spent concentrated time this last month eating ice cream.

Why eat ice cream?

Because after a year affected by the pandemic, an election, fires, and more havoc, I wanted some fun and now I’m having it. And what better way to celebrate than with ice cream.

Of course, nothing can be as frivolous an endeavor as just indulging in ice cream, so I made it into a research project with a sample size of one. I am both the investigator and the sample. After hearing research results a few times a day on the prevalence of the virus and the efficacy of the various vaccines, I thought my ice cream study would surely be a fun diversion.

My research began in January. I flew to warmer AZ from chilly SD to spend three months for the first time, joining up with my son and daughter-in-law. They came and went twice, then my daughter and family came. Ice cream became the go-to celebratory food for arrivals, departures, and fun events in-between. I remembered a Baskin-Robbins nearby in Peoria from previous years, so we started there. On a day in Scottsdale, I recalled the Sugar Bowl, so that was a necessary stop. Then, over a few days, half gallons from the local Safeway, each person having their own flavor, saved us from even having to leave home.

flying during covid

Finally, I found myself alone. No kids, no visitors. What was I going to do with the ice cream observations I had made? Which one was best—creamiest, tastiest, cheapest?

I did the logical thing when one has designed a research study and feels some pressure to complete it in a reasonable amount of time, say, four days. I did it. 

Day One: I substituted dinner with Baskin-Robbins (of 31 flavor fame, you’ll recall.)

Day Two: I happened to be in a mall at lunch time, and there happened to be a Haagen-Dazs booth. I can attest that ice cream works as well for lunch as dinner.

Day Three: I started out reasonably with a Peanut Butter Moo smoothie from Jamba Juice. It’s only about 17,009 points on my Weight Watchers app, but, hey, it’s healthy—peanut butter and all—and I just happened to be able to drive out of my way to find a Jamba Juice. And it was almost dinner time, so it was, well, worth it. 

But a problem emerged almost immediately. I was still hungry. So with my research in mind, I thought I’d seen a Cold Stone Creamery nearby, so I asked Google to take me there. Well! Google took me to a Dunkin Donuts! So I got a chocolate-frosted, cream-filled to go and then walked over a few shops to Cold Stone Creamery. It didn’t take long until I felt full. Very full. And almost sick. But delightfully sick.

Day Four: I was feeling some pressure because I knew my research project had to end soon (one’s arteries can stand just so much butter fat), so I found a clipping my son had laid on the counter of my rental home for an ice cream place and discovered it was near a store I had wanted to go to. So off I went to that store and then drove an additional five miles (it hadn’t looked that far on the map, honestly) to find Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream in Surprise, AZ.

I don’t want to bore you with the details of my results. You see I like ice cream. All ice cream. I usually get butter pecan and mocha at each stop. I can tell you every place had great ice cream. Creamy and tasty. But I can also say, with certainty, the kind from the grocery story will save you dozens of dollars and millions of miles. 

I recommend the grocery store. Especially if you’re treating.

For the record, I’ve now been ice cream free for five days. I’d like to say that Marv, my late husband, would be proud, but he’d probably shake his head and chuckle. After all, he’d always stop for me to go to Sherman’s Ice Cream at Exit 20, South Haven, Michigan, during the hundreds of trips we made over fifty years from Chicago to Grand Rapids. 

Maybe I can just blame Marv for my love of ice cream. Oh, how I miss him.