Saturday, July 30, 2005
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. -- Forget that "I scream, you scream" nonsense. A block from Rehoboth Beach's grainy sands and churning waves, where beachgoers are baking on a Tuesday afternoon in a 95-degree swelter, Udder Delight Ice Cream House is busy scooping ice cream flavors so outlandish it makes some of its chill-seekers scream, all right.
"Uh, it tastes a little too much like barbecue," says bikini-topped Franny Linus, 25, staring at a creamy beige concoction on a plastic spoon. She grimaces the way people do when sizing up something really weird.
On a day trip from Bear, Del., Linus and her friend Leigh Ann McDonough, 24, flip-flopped into the otherwise old-fashioned ice cream parlor thinking icy-cold mango smoothies. But Udder Delight owner Chip Hearn steered them to an impromptu taste test of his newest creations -- one of which may be the world's first barbecue-flavored ice cream. The other test flavors: a chunky bacon ice cream and a pale-red Cackalacky Spice Sauce ice cream.
Linus licks the bacon ice cream. "Not bad," she says. But she's not big on the frozen bits of bacon. McDonough thinks it tastes a little like butter pecan and kind of likes it.
Studying their reactions are Hearn and his barbecuing and brainstorming partner, H. Page Skelton.
Wearing a denim "Cackalacky" logo apron and a white 10-gallon cowboy hat, Skelton is the president of the Cackalacky Classic Condiment Co. in Chapel Hill, N.C. He drove up this week for the unveiling of this oddball ice cream made with his award-winning sauce, typically poured over North Carolina pork barbecue. Skelton and Hearn, 52, like to travel the nation's competitive barbecue circuit together.
"Bacon and butterfat, what could be better? The stuff should come with CPR instructions," jokes Skelton, 37, watching the young women sample the next sample -- spicy-hot ice cream with a vinegar aftertaste.
"Interesting," concludes McDonough, "but I wouldn't buy a whole thing of it."
They order smoothies.
"You can do almost anything with ice cream -- that's the beauty of it," says Hearn, whose XXXL size shows how beautiful he finds ice cream. He has been in the business 35 years, but it's only in the past three that making dairy out of the ordinary for this store and his boardwalk shop up the street has become his passion.
Within a couple of blocks, Hearn says, he's got a dozen competitors, including Ben, Jerry, Baskin and Robbins. Udder Delight is at the corner of Rehoboth Avenue and Triple Bypass, across from Hooters; inside, the decor is traditional Holstein. The sign in the window boasts of how Hearn's peanut-butter-and-jelly ice cream won the World Series of Ice Cream two years ago.
There's a life-size replica cow head mounted on the wall, to represent the specially bred Jersey cows that supply the extra butterfat-rich milk for Hearn's creations. Its head sways back and forth. When manager Tricia Collins speaks into her lapel microphone, the cow's mouth moves and speaks. "We welcome people and scare little kids sometimes -- not on purpose," says Collins. "If you moo at people as they leave, they are offended sometimes."