Seaside Stories

Ice Cream for Dinner

February 17, 2013 | by Jon Rahl

There’s never a bad time for ice cream, at least that’s my mentality. Okay, I don’t make it a practice to substitute the cold dessert for meals on a regular basis but I made that very exception this past weekend.

Ice cream is normally a mid-afternoon treat for us or an after-dinner excursion that happens a couple of times a month, so when we rolled into Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream shop at 6 p.m. (pre-dinner) on a Friday night it was a bit of an abnormality. That early arrival didn’t change the excitement I always get for gazing into the frozen cooler to decide on a flavor. Life is always better when you try one or two “samples” before making that final, big decision too.

When I was a kid, it was pretty much status quo once I walked through the door:  nothing crazy, no hemming or hawing, and nearly always a sugar cone topped with one or two regular flavors.

Things are different as an adult, and although a fruit-based flavor is common, I’ll try about anything these days if it sounds or looks good.  I also appear to have evolved into ordering a cake cone, or the plain kind. Is that a sign of getting older?

On this night it was butterscotch chip for the selection, and while it carried the sweetness you’d expect from butterscotch it wasn’t over the top – always a four-star quality for me. Zinger’s handcrafts everyone one of its flavors. Owner Mike Exinger validated that for me on this visit when he reminded me that everything is made in the small kitchen that sits adjacent to the display freezer.

It’s a labor of love for Exinger and his wife. In addition to the ice cream – usually made in the mornings before they open – the waffle cones are also made on site. They opened over a decade ago serving fudge, a practice that continues during the summer. Exinger loves the history of this dessert too. After spending a little time with him on Friday, he followed up with an email to point out that Seaside’s first ice cream shop opened around 1904. Ask him to rattle off a statistic on a particular flavor and he’s bound to have that in his back pocket too.

The most fascinating series of stats though, came after I finished my ice cream. Exinger pointed out that a study was done a few years back that showed there is about one ice cream shop for every 36,000 residents in our country. With close to a dozen ice cream shops serving more than 220 “holes,” or number of tubs of ice cream, throughout the Seaside and Gearhart area (in a county of just 38,000 people), it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the thought of brain freeze.

Regardless of where you purchase your next frozen treat along Oregon’s North Coast, hopefully it’s another memory of great times at the beach. See you in Seaside!

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