"'There are lemonade licks
And syrupy sticks,
And pineapple pockets.
And my special flavor for today
Is Fun Valley Smash:
Oh, my they did taste good." - The Good Humor Man, Kathleen N. Daly
When I was pregnant with my oldest son a co-worker gave me a set of reissued classic Little Golden Books as part of a shower gift. One of the books in the set was The Good Humor Man, a book I had overlooked (or perhaps it had been out of print) during my own childhood of reading and collecting Little Golden Books (perhaps someday I will write a post about the profound influence these books had on my life as a reader). I have very vivid memories of sitting on the floor in the nursery reading aloud to my infant son while he did tummy time on a blanket beside me. Later, this ended up being the book we would throw in a backpack or carryon to take on airplanes or day trips into the city. Simply put, this book with its sweet story and 60s era charm is a family favorite.
Kathleen N. Daly's story about a neighborhood ice cream man who brings treats to families in a typical 60s suburban neighborhood seems almost outdated. When is the last time you saw an ice cream man? I am pretty sure that my kids know about ice cream men only from this book, although the ice cream truck was a fixture in the California neighborhood I grew up in. In the book we see the Good Humor man make his rounds in his white truck, selling "raspberry rockets" and "pineapple pockets" to the families on his route. One of his customers is a lonely boy named Johnny. Another customer, who lives way up on a hill outside of town, is an older woman who has a visiting grandson, Dick: he's also lonely. The next day, when the Good Humor man notices Johnny is without his puppy, he learns the dog is lost. But hooray! Dick and Granny have found the puppy! This inspires the Good Humor man to play matchmaker--Johnny gets his puppy back and, in the process, he and Dick become friends.
Tibor Gergeley's original illustrations are perfectly paired with Daly's text, perhaps more now than when the book was published in 1964. The retro look (which is, of course, "retro" only by present day 2010's standards) perfectly complements this story of a bygone era--when the highlight of a family's summer day might well have been the ice cream man's visit.
Drawing inspiration from the Good Humor man's flavors, we made some ice pops on this first weekend in June.
Fun Valley Smash
"Fun Valley Smash" is the Good Humor man's special flavor of the day. He describes it as being "raspberry-strawberry-marshmallow mash."
- marshmallow creme
- vanilla yogurt
Additional equipment: Stick blender, ice pop mold (mine was $2.00 at Target)
1. Wash fruit. Chop stems off strawberries and cut into smaller pieces. Place in blender cup.
2. Use stick blender to puree fruit. Children should be supervised during this process.
3. Pour fruit puree into larger mixing bowl. Add a couple of dollops of marshmallow creme.
4. Add a spoonful or two of the vanilla yogurt. I chose to add vanilla yogurt for a creamier consistency; you could certainly stay true to the book and just use the fruit and marshmallow.
5. Stir the fruit, marshmallow and yogurt together. The yogurt will blend easily. The marshmallow will not. At best, I got it to separate into smaller chunks (by mashing it with the back of the spoon) which worked fine.
6. Carefully pour the mixture into your molds. Leave room for the sticks.
7. Place molds in freezer and let freeze for several hours.
The finished product:
These frozen treats were a huge hit, easy to make and reasonably healthy. The boys enjoyed them after a run through the sprinklers (hence the crazy hair).
The Good Humor Company has quite an interesting history. Check out their web page for information on the treats, trucks and ice cream men that inspired Daly's fictional story. The company still exists and their ice cream confections are available nationwide.
And since we are on the topic of ice cream men and this book and my six (almost seven!) year old's infancy, I will always associate the song in this Kohl's commercial with that time. More than any other song (except maybe John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)"), this song takes me back to the summer of 2003. The commercial played constantly for a couple of weeks (I was nursing a newborn. I spent a lot of time in front of the TV.), to the point that I will never think of ice cream men without thinking of this commercial and that time in my life.