Here is a piece I submitted with my application. The prompt was "Tell us about the food you ate as a child." I stretched the truth a bit, Kimber was the one to actually invent Lemon Zest.
I am sitting in my mothers lap, a 3 year old naked baby, chocolate ice cream dripping down my body. I scoop it out of the pint with my hands, ready to lick the melting goodness. My expression is serious. I am concentrating. My mother looks to the side, laughing.
This photograph is framed in the office of the McConnell's Ice Cream factory, a place I know very well. Grandpa Jim bought the factory in 1963 and passed it down to Uncle Jimmy in 1999. I recall my grandmother picking me up from surf camp in my swimsuit and pretending to lock me in the freezer. Another time my dad and I slid down the conveyor belt that transports the dry supplies: enormous bags of chocolate chips, rainbow gumballs, macadamia nuts. The factory is a place of fun and enchantment, where mystifying machines combine cream, sugar, and milk – put out your cone and in comes fresh magic.
Ice cream unites my family. At any excuse for a get-together – the kid’s are starting school! It’s the dog’s birthday! – we gather at Grandpa’s house and stuff our faces with it: the sticky sweet gooey bits of liquid mint in the peppermint stick; the chunks of deep, delicious cocoa in my favorite, chocolate raspberry truffle; the tropical creamy texture of island coconut… I would gladly identify any flavor with my eyes closed.
Part of the family tradition is inventing a flavor. At 11-years-old, I stood before a huge metal cauldron of swirling flavor, on my tip-toes, nose barely peeking above the edge. Taste-testing after every minute alteration, I called: “A bit more sugar, Jimmy! A dollop of cream! Just a bit more zest! A little more tang!” Add a little magic, and I had invented a flavor: California Lemon Zest.
Nine years later, I now understand the science behind ice cream. This summer I took my campers on a field trip to the factory. I watched their wide-eyed wonder enviously, unable to recall the days when the mysterious ice cream factory was magic.