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The food crisis has finally hit home for me — I just paid 50 cents for a miniature ice cream sandwich!
I should have seen it coming. Sure, gas prices careening out of control, but as a cyclist, I have felt a few steps removed. Food costs are growing by the minute, so I was forewarned.
But, mini ice cream sandwiches? The eternal dream treat — and one of the only edibles a girl could sink her teeth into for a mere 25 cents — lost its innocence at the onset of summer.
At the Around the Clock Deli & Grocery on Fourth Avenue and Union Street, I forked over a dollar for a mini ice-cream sandwich. When I got two — not three, but two! — quarters back, I had to face some cold, hard truths.
The palm-sized sandwiches are tasty and uber-affordable, but they’re especially sweet because not everyone knows to look for them. In an era of super-sized edibles, the tiny sandwich is a deliciously understated testament to simpler times.
But those times just became a bit more complex.
“It used to be a quarter,” I argued, unwrapping the slightly thawed time-honored (and not-yet-freezer-burned) treat. “What happened?”
The guy behind the counter, Abdu Aziz, said simply, “The price went up.”
I get it. Higher gas prices mean a rise in trucking costs. It costs more to keep the freezer fired up. But a 100-percent increase?
With no warning?! And just as the summer kicked in?!
Aziz shrugged his shoulders and looked away.
Richard Washburn, president of Washburn’s Ice Cream in Gloversville, N.Y., said he recently raised prices to reflect costs of making the sandwich. “Every product that goes into it just skyrocketed,” said Washburn, whose grandfather founded the company in 1922.
“The price of milk has gone up. The price of butter fat is up. It’s $1,000 to deliver a load of ice cream in New York City.”
Each year Washburn’s Ice Cream produces several million of the two-ounce “delux vanilla” sandwiches. The third-generation owner said the 130-calorie treat is a “Northeast item,” with 90 percent of sales in the city. That filled me with pride. But that, too, comes at a price.
“I’ve always said it should be a 75-cent item,” said Washburn. “You look around at all the things you buy and that’s the best deal in the world.”
The two-ounce All Star ice cream sandwiches are hard — and good — to find. And they’re still a great buy compared to a $3 cone.
So, I’m OK with the spike in price. For now.
Laura Silver, also known as “The Knish Lady” for her encyclopedic knowledge of the history of that Brooklyn culinary relic, is a freelance writer who lives in Park Slope.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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