Friday, August 19, 2011
So Many Flavors
"32 Flavors" is a song, written and performed by Ani DiFranco. Released in 1995, the song was later covered by Alana Davis. The title of the song is a play on Canton, Massachusetts-based ice cream store Baskin-Robbins and its well-known "31 flavors" slogan.
But Massachusetts was home to an earlier ice cream and restaurant empire, Howard Johnson’s started in the 1920s in Quincy. Howard Johnson also created the first franchise anywhere in the U.S. when an orange roof restaurant went up on Orleans on Cape Cod. Johnson created 28 flavors of ice cream for his fledgling restaurants, about the most he could imagine at the time.
Fast forward to the 2000s and the orange roofs have just about disappeared – from more than 800 at their peak to less than a dozen by 2005. The 28 ice cream varieties shrank down to 16 paralleling the chain’s decline.
Now, many independent ice cream establishments offer far more than 28 or 32 flavors. If you’re an ice cream lover you’d say we deserve it, and wouldn’t have it any other way! Cream ice cream is one of my personal favorites.
And I’ve sampled Moxie ice cream from the only establishment that makes the stuff – Kennebec Fruit Company store in Lisbon Falls, Maine. Horror writer Stephen King attended Lisbon Falls High School – but that has nothing to do with either Moxie or ice cream.
But in counting up the flavor choices, my all-time favorite comes from the Shirelles. The Shirelles were an American girl group in the early 1960s, the first to have a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and were the first major female vocal group of the rock and roll era, preceding Motown as a crossover phenomenon with white audiences. Their song, “31 Flavors” was highlighted in the comedy classic, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.