Shake Down

It is tradition for our family, and probably every family that visits Bear Lake and isn’t lactose intolerant, to indulge in a famous shake sometime during the visit.

For our family, we always do it on the way home because we tell our children their trip treat is contingent upon how cheerfully they endure family bonding and togetherness.

Sometimes I am still shivering from the dip in the beautiful but glacial water when we pull up to eat a frigid treat, but even if I were dying of hypothermia I would not turn down ice cream. If I’m going to die anyway, I would rather die with a smile on my blue lips.

There is one shake place by the lake that has reigned supreme in its tradition and commandeered most of our taste buds and bucks. Other establishments have appeared over the years to challenge our loyalties, but out of tradition and mostly habit we’ve remained loyal to the king – until recently.

Ice cream is my favorite food. Whether I am dying of hypothermia or something else, it is the last thing I want to have spoon fed into my mouth if necessary before I go towards the light. I believe there are very few things that happen in life that cannot be fixed with an Oreo shake, except perhaps a weight problem.

Over the years I have become quite the connoisseur of ice cream and there is definitely a difference in quality. I was spoiled at an early age when I got a job at a family-owned dairy that made and served their own ice cream the old fashioned way in glass dessert dishes. It was so delicious they were approached many times by food industry big wigs to go commercial and distribute it. They refused because they did not want to add the preservatives necessary to increase the shelf life of their product. It was pure cream straight from the frozen cow and they wanted to keep it that way.

Though I was paid a mere pittance to work there, I was more than compensated in ice cream access and indulgence. It broke my heart, but after working there a year I had to quit before my freshman fifteen became twenty.

But my experience there honed my ice cream palette and made me choosier about what frozen calories are worth the extra workout, and which ones are not. Nothing has ever quite matched the frozen manna of Country Boy Dairy, but I have found brands and establishments that appease me.

When we stopped in our traditional haunt for Bear Lake shakes on Labor Day, I could tell after the first bite they had sold out their standards. What they were passing off as ice cream for almost $4 a cup, was the nasty watery soft serve that buffet restaurants pump from a germ-infested self-serve machine. No amount of fresh Bear Lake raspberries or Oreos could have disguised the downgrade.

Maybe the average ice cream consumer is fooled, but not a seasoned ice cream addict like myself who was nursed from the frozen udder in my youth.

I love tradition, but I will not be a slave to it.

During next year’s visit, I will have to venture out on the hard streets of Garden City and find a new dealer of my favorite drug. My disappointment is deep. My pain is severe.

Don’t worry. I’ll shake it off.

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