You know what they call fudge and Ripple?
(Apologies to Fred. G. Sanford.)
Growing up, one of my rites of passage was the day I was finally allowed to walk up the block all by myself to the 7-Eleven. I would buy myself a big Coke Icee and get to pick out a half-gallon of ice cream for the family.
I always bought Fudge Ripple.
Rich vanilla ice cream, with a swirl of soft, sticky hot fudge running through the whole carton.
I don’t know what brand of ice cream it was, only that it came in a round container, which I know because I have very fond memories of sitting down with the whole carton and eating the fudge first, carefully excavating the swirl as it spiraled all the way down to the bottom.
Yes, I was a chubby kid. Thanks for asking.
I’ve always had a thing for ice cream. On road trips, if we’re going through Tennessee, we always make a rest stop at Mayfield Dairy.
There’s a Blue Bell ice cream factory down the road in Sylacauga, which my kids have visited on field trips. I never volunteered to chaperone on field trips to the zoo, or the pumpkin patch. But I’ve been to the Blue Bell factory. Twice.
I felt like Charlie Bucket.
My favorite flavor of Blue Bell is Moo-llennium Crunch (vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel and toasted pecans, almonds and walnuts). I’m also partial to Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia (cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes), the mint chocolate chip at Wright Dairy and the lemon at Clumpies in Chattanooga.
Blue Bell also makes a Cantaloupe and Cream that I’m dying to try, but they only sell it in Texas in the summer.
And yet, and yet … none of these are the Fudge Ripple of my childhood.
Every now and then, I’ve picked up a carton of somebody or other’s Fudge Ripple, but it’s never the same. The fudge is too hard. Or the swirl isn’t big enough. Or the vanilla ice cream is lousy.
But then, a few weeks ago in the grocery store, I spotted a new Blue Bell flavor. “Homemade vanilla ice cream with a chocolate fudge swirl.”
Could it be? If anybody could make my beloved Fudge Ripple, it would be Blue Bell.
I didn’t buy it that day. I was there to buy a carton of Neapolitan to feed a sleepover. And, well, I was scared. My heart had been broken so many times before.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The next week, I was back in the freezer aisle.
It was gone.
I … I … oof.
There was another new flavor of Blue Bell there, Coconut Fudge. “Coconut ice cream with a rich fudge swirl.” Could that have been the carton I’d seen? Had I simply jumped to conclusions, built up this whole Fudge Ripple fantasy in my head?
I bought some Moo-llennium Crunch to console myself.
But I couldn’t stay out of the freezer aisle. A few days later I was back, digging through cartons of Christmas Cookies in July, Key Lime Pie, Southern Blackberry Cobbler, Summer Strawberry Pie (oooo, that sounds good), Red Velvet Cake and Triple Chocolate.
And there it was.
Fudge Ripple. Only Blue Bell calls it “Homemade in the Shade.”
I didn’t like it. The fudge wasn’t gooey enough, and it tasted of chemicals.
My 11-year-old son, however, thinks it’s the best ice cream he’s ever had.