David and I were walking home after a lovely dinner of Thai food and white wine last Friday, when I remembered we didn’t have anything at home for dessert. And we needed dessert. So we went into Bob & Betty’s, the gourmet grocery store in our neighborhood, to find a little something. I headed straight for the ice cream section and got my peruse on. Bob & Betty’s is great, because they have really delicious, all-natural products. Bob & Betty’s is the worst, because everything is crazy expensive and they don’t necessarily put price-tags on everything. But the Associated closes early, and I felt like treating myself, so I was fully prepared to drop a few bucks on a fancy pint.
As I looked through the ice cream section, a brand I’d never tried before caught my eye. Jenni’s. There was a pint of double chocolate, which sounded like just the right combination of rich decadence and disgusting fat. I picked up the pint and walked to the counter.
Now, before I go any further, I want to explain something. I don’t necessarily know how much everything is supposed to cost. I once had to get a boot repaired. It cost $11. I had $11 on me, so that seemed like a fair rate. But if the cobbler had handed me a ticket that said $95, I would have shrugged and said “Boots! What are you gonna do?” and paid the man his outrageous fee. But ice cream, I know how much that should cost. I’ve been eating and buying it my entire life. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve being at Dierberg’s with my mom and filling our cart with 2 for $5 pints of Ben & Jerry’s.
“It’s such a good deal!” she’d say, pushing the Chunky Monkey aside to find a pint of fourth pint of Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. And a deal it was.
I also know that sometimes things cost more in New York City than they do in the midwestern town where I grew up (I mean, if a $900 bedroom in an apartment full of shifty-eyed strangers in a seedy neighborhood isn’t a steal, I don’t know what is!). I was feeling a little sassy that night. It had been a long week, and I felt I deserved a really delicious treat. David and I had once spent $8 on the most delicious pint of ice cream I have ever eaten, to this day. It was mint chocolate cookie, and we’ve never eaten again, obviously. But tonight I was prepared to spend $8. I put my game face on and walked to the register.
“$12,” said the cashier.
“$12,” I repeated back at her. My eyes must have grown wide, or maybe I began foaming at the mouth, because the girl responded,
“Do you still want it?”
There’s nothing like having an 18 year-old cashier at a fancy grocery ask you if you “still want it.”
“No,” I admitted.
I walked away from the register, back to the ice cream section. I needed to re-asses the situation. I was sweating.
“What’s wrong?” asked David.
“$12,” I answered, showing him the measley pint of Jenni’s. Enough, Jenni! Enough!
After another five minutes of searching, I settled on a classic pint of Haagen-Dazs chocolate chip cookie dough, which seemed to be a deal at just $5.
We left, but I couldn’t shake the sticker shock. A pint of ice cream is, in my food-obsessed mind, supposed to be around the cost of an ice cream cone at a shop, maybe a little more depending on where you like to buy your cones. Buying ice cream at a shop is a treat, and there is nothing like walking around NYC in the summer with a cookies ‘n’ cream cone, vanilla dripping all down your arm. So, sure, I’ll spend $4-5 on it a few times each summer, but I’ll buy a pint or half gallon the rest of the summer, because it’s so much more cost effective. But a $12 pint? I can buy three cones at Ample Hillls (AMPLE HILLS!) for that price. A $12 cone would be beyond a treat. If you ever see me spend $12 on a single ice cream cone, pistol whip me. Seriously. Because it means I’m on a lot of drugs and need an intervention post-haste.
David and I went home and ate our Haagen-Dazs while watching some Hulu. It was a lovely evening, and I’m certain that there is nothing about the double-digit priced ice cream that would have made it much better.
I still think about the $12 ice cream sometimes, and I wonder what kind of person ever buys it. Are the people who buy this ice cream Dapper Dons who are chauffeured about town in limousines, wearing top hats and Rolex timepieces? Or are they the new Brooklyn mommies who take yoga twice a day, and wear clothing made of hempseed, and whose one true indulgence, at the end of a long week, is a $12 pint of ice cream? I’m guessing it’s the latter. Either way, these people are out of their minds. You can get a boot repaired for that price.