WAY back in the mid 70s, my father retired from the US Air Force and he and my mother moved to Christianstead, St. Croix in the US Virgen Islands, where he began flying for Antilles Airboats, a small, island hopping, commuter seaplane operation. Not far from the Antilles’ office, there was a small “mom and pop” operation that sold groceries and a few flavors of ice cream, the most popular being rum raisin. It was “to die for!” Creamy and definitely “rummy!” I never passed up a chance on my vacation visits to grab a huge cone filled to overflowing with that heady decadence of rum infused deliciousness.
After my parents relocated from the islands back to mainland USA, we all seemed to be on the same mission of finding a rum raisin ice cream that was equal to what we had experienced on the island. The search proved fruitless. Finally, it dawned on us all as to why we couldn’t find the same intensity of flavor; the island ice cream used real rum in their recipe! Therefore, nothing the ice cream parlors and grocery stores sold even hinted at the same level of flavor that the “mom and pop” variety provided! Rats.
~The Holy Grail of Rum Raisin~
One afternoon, many years after they had left the islands, I received a phone call from my mother, excitedly proclaiming to have “found just what we’ve been looking for in rum raisin ice cream!” My salivary glands kicked into overdrive!
“It’s a new brand,” said Mom. Naturally, I asked what in the heck it was, as I had tried just about every ice cream label I could lay my hands on in this tiresome quest for true rum raisin ice cream. “Wait a sec,” she says, “it has a funny name.”
Now, I must sidetrack here to say, that in spite of having lived decades out of her home state of Georgia, my mother retained her thick-as-cane syrup- Southern accent, and some of the utterances out of her mouth might cause a listener to perform the “puppy dog head tilt” in an effort to understand what they think they might have just heard. She also had a habit of interchanging words similar in spelling and pronunciation, but with completely different meanings. In true 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had written down these words, but one in particular comes to mind that had me, and several dinner guests in their home, rolling on the floor one night after she angrily proclaimed that the sentence some criminal had received was not nearly long enough.
“They should have incinerated him for at least twenty years!” Uhhhhhh…”Mom, I think you mean ‘incarcerated?’ ”
“NO,” she shot back, “I mean incinerated…..jailed for much longer than a paltry twenty years!”
“I think,” I cautiously proceeded to say, “that a twenty minute incineration would take care of any lengthier jail sentence!’ She wanted to argue, but the laughter from the others at the table convinced her to go to the dictionary and look up both words. She conceded, begrudgingly, that we were all correct. Incarceration, not incineration!
~The Quest Continues to This Day~
Impatiently, I waited as she rustled around in her grocery bags. I really wanted to know what this ice cream brand was that was going to catapult me back years in time to summer days spent on white sand beaches caressed by clear, azure blue waves, enjoying rum raisin ice cream while lolling around in a lounge chair.
“Here,” she said, triumphantly over the phone. “It’s called ‘Hawgs ‘n Dawgs!”……… What? Phone away from ear, puppy dog head tilt activated. Had I heard that correctly?
“What was that, Mom?”…..Again, she gleefully pronounced, “Hawgs ‘n Dawgs! Ruthie, (a good friend of hers), says it’s delicious!”
“Hawgs ‘n Dawgs?!? Hawgs ‘n Dawgs?”I kept turning this “new” brand over in my mind. Never before had I seen it.
“Are you sure that’s the brand, Mom?” She was.
“How do you spell it,” I asked.
“Just a sec; let me get my glasses,” she replied.
Suspicion had been building in my mind, and it was confirmed when she spelled out, “H-a-a-g-e-n D-a-z-s…. Hawgs ‘n Dawgs.”
To this day, after so many years, I am still unable to look at Haagen Dazs ice cream and pronounce it any way other than “Hawgs ‘n Dawgs,” and no, as good as all Haagen Dazs flavors are, I have yet to find an equal to the island ice cream of my youth…..none that I have been able to locate, at any rate. If anyone has found something they think might be the ” rum raisin ice cream grail,” I am more than willing to give it a try. Just, please, give me the correct spelling….I can probably work out the pronunciation for myself.