Soft Serve and Summer

More
Rancatore_Aug_11_icecream_post.jpg

Photo by petrr/Flickr CC

I think the best ice cream store in the world is probably in Paris, on a small island in the middle of the Seine, Maison Berthillon. But my favorite ice cream store in the world is in northern Maine, on Route 4, and is called the Pine Tree Softy.

Every year for more than 25 years, I have traveled to the western mountains of Maine, close to the New Hampshire and Quebec borders. Summer is the busiest time of the year for any ice cream store, but it is also the time of year when we have the most people working since all our summer workers are on hand and trained. Happily, it is the time when I most need a vacation.

The Pine Tree Softy is in front of a small pond in the Rangeley Lakes Region. I can tell you that ducks love ice cream more than you'd ever guess. They love hard ice cream, and they love soft ice cream. They love Bear Paws and Moose Tracks and Deer Tracks and Maine Caribou Crunch. They love vanilla soft serve and chocolate soft serve, and they very much love the black and white twist.

People associate ice cream and ice cream stores with first dates, softball victories, and getting into graduate school.

Summer in northern Maine reminds me of the Eisenhower administration and small-town America. A lot of the little boys have wiffle haircuts, and, judging by the photographs in Stubby's Market, they also catch most of the big fish in the lakes.

Rangeley, Maine is halfway between the equator and the North Pole. The sun sets late, and, because of the lake's East-West orientation, lasts a wonderful hour. Most weeks, there are more moose to be seen than working air conditioners. Nights are cool, and even hot days aren't uncomfortable.

The Pine Tree Softy demonstrates the importance of context. People associate ice cream and ice cream stores with first dates, softball victories, and getting into graduate school. St. Louis residents cruise hot streets before going to Ted Drewes for an impossibly thick concrete shake; a custard from Anderson's in Buffalo is one of summer's happy punctuation marks.

And if you have to be in Paris, France, instead of Paris, Maine, then you'll enjoy the white peach ice cream at Berthillon. It is very small and expensive but quite good. You look at the Cathedral of Notre Dame and much of Paris, but there are no ducks.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Gus Rancatore is the co-founder of Toscanini, the Cambridge-based shop that The New York Times said makes "the best ice cream in the world." Learn more at www.tosci.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is the Greatest Story Ever Told?

A panel of storytellers share their favorite tales, from the Bible to Charlotte's Web.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In