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Our family's ice-cream legacy

From my parents to my children, ice cream has always provided us an excuse to bond.

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Ice cream, for me, has always been an essential part of life. I still can taste my grandmother's apple and peach pies, warm from the oven and topped with a huge scoop of vanilla. I still remember the tinkle of the bells on the door of the local ice-cream shop, where my older sister first introduced me to a tin-roof sundae, served in a shiny silver parfait glass, its tall spoon nearly too long for my grasp. Sitting on the orange stools in the shop, we bonded over hot fudge and peanuts. Early on, I learned that ice cream was something truly special – a sweet gift to be shared with those we love.

Tall chocolate shakes always remind me of Martin's, a frozen-custard stand that was my childhood reward for successful piano and violin lessons. "Let's just stop by the Tastee-Freez," Mom would say. "I think we deserve a shake."

It was Dad who upped the ante a bit, developing my discerning taste for chocolate malts. "You should try a malt," he advised. "When I was a kid they cost five cents extra." That summer, Dad and I frequented a local diner where thick, homemade malts complemented our cheeseburgers and fries. After lunch, I always felt full of good food and family.

Ice cream, such a cool confection, has always left me feeling strangely warm inside.

As a teenager, ice cream meant date nights when I shocked more than one boyfriend by ordering a peanut-butter-cup-supreme sundae and then eating every last decadent spoonful.

My cousin and I toured New England colleges, discovering that Ben & Jerry's made an excellent dinner choice. Why eat meat and vegetables when we could have Rocky Road? Dubbing our trip "The Dairy Tour," we ate ice-cream dinners for a week, scooping up Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey between Ivy League visits.

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