Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sometimes, All I Need Is Imaginary Ice Cream and to Love You.

When you were young, did you ever lay your big wheel* or bicycle, preferably big wheel, on its side, spin one of the wheels around using the pedal, and tell a friend that the ice cream store was open for business, or some shit?

I thought this was just something we did on our block, maybe due to all the led paint we ingested, but I came to find out people from other suburbs of Chicago and surrounding Midwestern cities also ran imaginary ice cream shops. Then, just today, I was IM'ing with SO@24 and Laughing Through My Chardonay, and they were both proprietors of big wheel ice cream joints in parts of California and Kansas, or wherever Chardsy is originally from.

This blew my mind, because the whole game is just a dumb concept. What does a spinning plastic wheel have to do with ice cream? Every 31 Flavors I've been to has a long, but not at all round, counter where people select the flavor on the other side of the glass that they want on top of their cone, bubblegum perhaps.** I know not of spinning wheels of flavors, do you? Who was the cool kid on the block who started doing this, and how did it take off nationwide? If I recall, it was not a game I'd play long, as it would usually play out something like this.

Neighbor: Around it goes . . . and you get . . . Mint Chocolate Chip!
A Young Dr. Ken: Uh, great. This is dumb. Let's go dine on some delicious paint chips.

The game's tendency to be over soon after it starts is kind of like when you grabbed a dandelion and said, "Momma had a baby and her head popped off," as you "popped" the flowery part of the weed off with your thumb. Once the head popped off, you were off to find another baby or do something else, perhaps something a little less sick and twisted. I mean, come on, popping baby heads off? I really shouldn't make off like I wasn't a little twisted too, since a neighbor and I used to play Lightning Bug Home Run Derby with those fat, red wiffle ball bats. Those poor little guys just kept lighting up and giving away their position. They didn't stand a chance against Ryne Sandberg and Jody Davis***. At least nobody got hurt at the ice cream parlor. Not mine, anyway.

I poked around the Internet a little on this matter, and it is speculated that grabbing that big wheel pedal and turning it is to signify cranking an old fashioned ice cream maker. Others believe the spinning wheel of flavors is an homage to some shop in San Francisco that had a wheel customers could spin, and on it were the titles of fifty flavors available daily. If you ask me, even if one or both of these facts are true, it still doesn't explain how something so darned stupid made its way across the country.

Readers, please tell me in your comments if you did or did not play the Big Wheel Ice Cream Parlor Game. Also, for extra credit, drive your bike to work, get down on the floor with it, spin the wheel, and say, "Ice cream! Get your ice cream here . . ." See who laughs, who gets nostalgic, who looks at you like you're nuttier than squirrel poop, who fires you on the spot, and let me know that too.


* I was thinking that someone should come out with Big Wheels for adults, but instead of in the style of A Team, Transformers, or G.I. Joe, have them decorated for Grey's Anatomy, The English Patient, Brokeback Mountain, or whatever else adults watch.

** I remember getting bubble gum ice cream and thinking it was so cool, even though the frozen, hardened collection of gum bits I had accumulated were giving me lock jaw. My parents would always say how gross and stupid it was, and now, as an adult, I see the light.

*** He and I are still Cub fans, and those are still our favorite players of all time. I can't speak for him, but for me it has to be the Lightning Bug Home run Derby connection. Jody was a lifetime .245 hitter, so how else do you explain how this scrub remains so near and dear to my heart?


So@24 said...

"Fuck yes for this post!" So@24 squealed as he got his text from Chardsy informing him of this entry.

And for the record, the brittle, flavorless gum I got in my Garbage Pail Kids will always be the best tasting gum.

the teeny city yogini. said...

we did turn our tikes on the side but i don't think we made ice cream. i think we may have made communal hosts so that we can play holy communion. my brother and i used to take turns saying body of christ to each other while passing out pieces of bread.

or maybe that's not something i should be admitting to the internet world....

Radioactive Tori said...

Yes, I did the big wheel ice cream thing and it was exactly as you described it.

My daughter and I just recently went to get ice cream and she chose the bubble gum ice cream. I remembered loving it as a child so I got the same. It was just not the same (or anywhere near as good) as I remembered it, but she thought it was perfect.

M360 said...

yes... i too did mimic the ole timey ice cream makers with my bike as a young lad. aaahhhh... the good ole days! would kids of today even get that if someone did it?

one of my college budy's little brother once saw a camera that used 35mm film and was so confused because he didn't understand why doesn't the camera have a LCD display. it was amusing, yet made me feel old :(

Joe White said...

Definitely did flip big-wheels and definitely thought it was the old ice cream churner.

Also, I have many times fantasized about adult-size big-wheels, but for some reason this fantasy involves riding through the zoo at night after the animals have been released.

And lastly, instead of lightning bugs, I played against my brother with spider-wasps, which are about two inches long. That was last year, and it was still a huge rush.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

Wow, you'veput a lot of time in thi post. Sadly, neither me nor my friends playe ice cream parlor (we were much cooler than that*).

Speaking of dandelions, did you ever do the dandelion test as a kid where you would put a dandelion under someone's chin and if it glowed yellow it meant they liked butter? That was big in my neighborhood.

* Not really though.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

Christ on a Big Wheel, I cannot type this morning.

TSTuesday said...

For some reason my Big Wheel o' Ice Cream always churned out Mint Chocolate Chip, I was never creative enough to think of other flavors. This is probably because we drank from the hose and the mercury killed off my brain cells.

The thought of a "Brokeback Mountain" Big Wheel is hilarious for more reasons than I can list here.

"Christ on a Big Wheel" made me laugh my ass off, well played Cherry, well played.

TSTuesday said...

For some reason my Big Wheel o' Ice Cream always churned out Mint Chocolate Chip, I was never creative enough to think of other flavors. This is probably because we drank from the hose and the mercury killed off my brain cells.

The thought of a "Brokeback Mountain" Big Wheel is hilarious for more reasons than I can list here.

"Christ on a Big Wheel" made me laugh my ass off, well played Cherry, well played.

paperback reader said...

Um...maybe I was just a really boring kid, but I wasn't going to play any game that offered me nonexistent ice cream when the real thing was available inside. Sure, I had to create a distraction by starting a diversion fire in the living room, but 'twas a small price to pay.

Seriously, I've never heard of this game, and this era of my childhood encompassed 3 states.

classyandfancy said...

Can't say that I've ever participated in such activities. I was too busy getting tortured, trespassing, and running away from home. Ah, those were the days.

josh williams said...

I did not have a big wheel or a hoppity hop...However my sister did have both and I ran over the Hoppity Hop with the bush hog, dad was kinda pissed...It was cool! Jamoca Almond Fudge was my flavor of choice and I still would order the same to this day.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

5 bloggers made imaginary ice cream with their big wheels

3 For sure did not

1 played a religious, non-ice cream version

1 told us he had no big wheel, and then said his fav. ice cream, so I'm not sure of his answer.

24: You need to make that t-shirt. If you do, I take a large.

Log: So, did you make any imaginary ice cream or just give out our fathers? Had you heard of the ice cream thing? I'm trying to get the votes down, so let me know if you come back to see what I said about your comment, which I know I do sometimes.

Radio: That stuff is nasty, right?

360: You're right. Kids have no concept of dropping off film to have it developed, then they see all your sick, porno pictures.

Knocks: Awesome comments on all three accounts. Welcome to my site, and I'll return the favor real soon, sir!

Cherry: If I rub it on my penis, and IT turns yellow, does that mean my penis likes butter?

Chardsy: Christ on a Big Wheel!! That's going to be said real soon . . .

Dawn: It may be a generational thing. Are you Cherry Ride's age?

Classy: I can't believe that shit!! Ask Mo if she played . . .

Josh: We called them HIPPITY-Hops. So, did you play the ice cream game or not? . . .

The Charming Hedonist said...

I remember this game! And yes, I played it! I also think that we should have adult big wheels -- how cool would that be? I'd totally ride mine around my neighborhood. And a nod to 24 for mentioning Garbage Pail Kids... I remember that gum

carolyn says said...

A. I never had a Big Wheel therefore I
B. Never played this game or knew about it, probably because
C. my brother, who did have a Big Wheel (which was totally unfair) would never let me play with it and I am still too bitter about the whole never having a Big Wheel thing to
D. Ask him if he ever played that weird ass game.

Ms Smack said...

Never did, and never heard of it.

Sorry, sex-pot.

Big kisses,

JerseySjov said...

i never played the big-wheel-ice-cream game. maybe im once again too young for this blog??

in one of my soc classes we talked about how kids everywhere play the same sort of games [tag in particular] without anyone formally teaching it to them. likewise, kids everywhere believe in cooties, but the social class/geographical location of the children is what determines who has cooties [girls mostly, but in some areas immigrant children or the youngest children were the only ones to have cooties].

Kritkrat said...

Never heard of that game - it definitely didn't make it all over the midwest...

My Kit from Knight Rider Big Wheel, however, was the coolest shit on the block. There was a lever you could pull to do 360's. It only worked for the first week or so, but no one else had a pimped out Big Wheel. SUCKAS!

A new Ron,ron,ron a new ron,ron said...

No such thing as Big Wheels in the UK, so I feel you unfairly excluded your European readers from engaging in this post and plan to report you to whoever regulates this interweb thing as soon as I can find out where the send button is.

Lauren Elizabeth said...

I did not make imaginary ice cream with my bike because I lived out in the country and there were no kids to play with. My brothers and I were too busy getting our bikes stuck in gravel and flying off and breaking our arms.

Sassy Blondie said...

I can't say I remember anything about an ice cream parlor game..sorry Dr. K.

However, Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace were my favorite Cubbies. Matter of fact, I was certain Mark Grace was in line to marry me when he got his divorce...I LOVED him, dammit!

Yes, I was a Cubs fan...now baseball just generally sucks ass.

paperback reader said...

Dr. K: I'm assuming, given your love for Sandberg (I was an Oil Can Boyd/Jim Rice man myself), that we're roughly the same age.

So, sorry, but I don't think the generational angle cuts it. I think the trio of east coast cities I lived in were just too cool for school. That, or I had no friends to play games with.

Drunken Chud said...

dude, i would never flip over flip over my Knight Rider big wheel... in the first couple of weeks till the fucking "sick turns brake" broke.

i much like kadonkadonk had a K.I.T.T. big wheel, and it was awesome. looking back... it sucked. it had a shitty adjustable seat back that never stayed in and an AWESOME orange hand brake that broke after a week or two of you doing nothing but hand brake turns and tring to get in a 360 and only managing a 180 or 270 at best. but dammit it was fun to try. till it broke, then you were left impotent should you need to seriously escape/evade in a hardcore big wheel death match to the deat.

as for the ice cream game, i remember flipping the ol' wheel over and spinning it, but i can neither confirm nor deny whether there was some old timey ice cream huksterism going on. i just don't recall what we did when we did that shit.

darci ann said...

Hell yes! Big wheel ice cream maker.

Doing a little rare blog trolling and you didn't dissapoint my friend.

PS sending a new reader your way. She's smart, she's funny, she's hot - oh and she lives in Chicago.

ReckenRoll said...

Christ on a Big Wheel also made me laugh out loud. So much so that I had to explain to my cube neighbor what I was laughing about.

For the record, he turned his Big Wheel on it's side to play car wash. I seem to recall turning the Big Wheel on it's side to play some version of store but never Ice Cream Shop.

In related news, I have a scar on my left knee thanks to a nasty Big Wheel accident. My first stitches. Fun!

5 of 9er said...

Did not. Sorry. Nope.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Wow, the 2nd round of comments proved to be anti-ice cream shop.

4 yes (counting one for a general store game and one for Chud. He played it, he just poured too much booze down his gullet to remember).

8 No

That brings our total to:

9 Yes
11 No

It's close. Come on, all you imaginary ice cream crankers! Show yourselves and help our cause!

Darci: Where the hell have you been, of course I didn't dissapoint, and why couldn't you have sent this other girl my way when I wasn't dating someone? Anyway, good to have you and your headphones back. You hear about the New Kids reunion?

Drunken Chud said...

you may be on to something there ken. you may be on to something.

heh, my word ver. is: studux.

yeah, i kinda am.

Michael5000 said...

Never heard of the Big Wheel ice cream parlor trick. It's not something I would have expected to catch on, but kids are weird. They do all sorts of crazy shit.

The thing about Big Wheel for adults is, there's no gearing on those suckers at all. You are just pushing on pedals that are directly attached to the epinymous big wheel. So your ability to get any acceleration at all is going to decline rapidly -- exponentially, I think, but I don't want to think about it that hard -- as you start weighing more than 50 pounds. Which is a damn shame.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Studux: Thanks for coming back by!

Mike: Oh, we can get gears on that son of a gun. No problem. It's going to be awesome . . .

Miss Organizized said...

I stumbled upon this GOOGLING 'big wheel ice cream' because a couple years ago I googled it and found barely anything. And now it's an explosion!! I even decided to develop a tshirt company and name it Big Wheel Ice Cream...my logo:

PS I lived in Altoona, IA in 1983-1988 when this phenomena was occuring.

Unknown said...

Hells yes for the Big Wheel Ice Cream parlor! I'm only wishing my new car had such a feature on it....

I'm representing Orange County in CA mid 80's and we had imaginary ice cream parlors popping off at every corner of our block.

The back bins of the Big Wheels doubled as an ice cream carrier in my world of endless ice cream. Ahhh, memories.

Anyway, I'm out...gotta go make some ice cream.

Unknown said...

Also, I feel obligated to comment that I'm posting for all the people who said that they made imaginary ice cream from their Big Wheels in our huge email debate we're having. My sister came along your blog by googling it since we were in such a heated debate about making Big Wheel ice cream that it was something our neighborhood only did or if it was a national craze. We, the ice cream makers, got a lot of flack from others but I'm glad there's a place for people like us.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Miss: I just took another look at this blog, and I was a better writer back then, so thanks for making me sad. Just kidding. Glad you found the page.

Colleen: I'm pleased I could help in your debate!!