Big Scoop on Our Sweet Tooth +Other Scoops

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The national press has just revealed that, when it comes to ice cream (easily the most important food group), Washington state stands apart. The evergreen state has an unusual taste in ice cream flavors. 

Most states — in fact 21 of them — are crazy for chocolate, ten states favor cookies and cream and eight states insist on ordering plain vanilla. There are a bunch of other preferences: six states scream for strawberry, three like cookie dough and a couple (Missouri and Wisconsin) opt for rocky road. But Washington stands alone: only state to pick mint chocolate chip.

That unique ice cream preference may say something about our taste for eccentric dishes like, say, goeduck, calamari, and hot dogs smeared with cream cheese.  It makes me want to know why we Washingtonians are such an anomaly when picking an ice cream flavor. 

One interesting theory is that, since childhood, Washingtonians were heavily influenced by Frangos, the chocolate mint truffle that is one of the Northwest’s commercial icons. Patented in 1918, the term Frango originally described a frozen dessert — orange or maple-flavored — served in the tearoom at Fredrick & Nelson, the city’s flagship department store. 

There’s a long-running debate over where the Frango name came from. West Seattle author Robert Spector, who exhaustively researched the question, believes it combined the F and R of Frederick’s with the popular dance craze of the era: the tango. 

The chocolate mint candy came along about 1928 or ’29. Head candymaker Ray Clarence Alden developed the recipe in Frederick’s eighth-floor candy kitchen. However the candy wouldn’t have gained fame without the promotional skills of marketeer Gil Ridean, sometimes called “the father of the Frango.” More assistance came from Joe Vinikow, grandfather of Julia Miller of Julia’s restaurants, whose Parisian Candy Company helped scale up production.

In the early years, it was a rare Northwest child who didn’t get a little green box of Frangos in the Christmas stocking. Frangos became the ideal hostess gift; a relatively inexpensive taste of luxury. Gil Ridean, who left to found Von’s Restaurant, was later asked if he still ate Frangos. He said, “Sure. Doesn’t everyone?” Small wonder then that ice cream lovers from the nation’s far lefthand corner would single out mint chocolate chip ice cream as their favorite.

Other news: 

Pitchman: Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has another success to his credit. Not only was he a model for a sell-out bobble head with some proceeds buying masks, but the good doctor has now inspired a best-selling baseball card. Topp’s edition of Dr. Fauci throwing out the first pitch of the 2020 season (unfortunately he wildly missed home plate) still was a home run with a limited press run of 51,125. If you missed out, you can pick up a used copy on eBay with prices ranging up to several hundred dollars.

Women first:  Returns show women candidates for the state Legislature made substantial gains in the primary. Depending on November’s outcomes, it looks as if the state house could be 50 percent female; the Senate close to 40 percent. Longtime Olympia watchers report it’s a far different world than 30 years ago when the Senate was virtually an old boys’ club. Just ask U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who was among the small handful.

Anchors awry: Few cancellations are as painful to read as Argosy Cruises’ recent announcement that the Christmas Ship Festival will not run this year. Argosy had earlier suspended all its public tours through spring and summer until further notice, but the decision suspending the Christmas festival is one of the saddest in a bleak year.

Ecoanxiety: Fame has come to Jamie Margolin, a West Seattle teen who stars in the New York Times magazine’s July 26 climate issue. Writer Brooke Jarvis follows Margolin and her busy days convincing young people that they have the power to affect change. Margolin appeared with climate activist Greta Thunberg last September during a joint congressional hearing. She’s part of a group of youngsters suing Washington state for contributing to climate change and has published a guidebook, “Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It.”

History revisited: In this plague year of keen interest in books, it’s big news that the Lewis and Clark expedition is having a revival year. Washington State University Press just released “Lewis and Clark Reframed, Examining Ties to Cook, Vancouver and MacKenzie.” One of the takeaways is that Lewis and Clark borrowed field techniques and even plagiarized paragraphs from McKenzie’s “1801 Voyages from Montreal.” Author and historian David L. Nicandri offers fresh ideas about the big expedition mystery: identity of the two or three journalists whose records remain missing.

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