An Ice Cream Show (Documentary)
Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Main Program: B+
Rick Sebak became so successful with his Pittsburgh Series
specials on WQED, the city’s (and United States’) first Public TV station, that
he has made some equally amazing national shows as well. One of the best is An Ice Cream Show,
produced in 1996. Though this only runs
about an hour, they hit so many great mom-and-pop places, that it will drive
you to hunt down places like that next time you want to head to a chain store.
Bassett’s in Philadelphia is first up, Carl’s in Virginia
has the cones in a never-say-custard custard-filled version, Robin Rose’s in
Venice, California, Dairy Dome (formerly Bentley’s) in Panama City, Florida,
Springer’s in Shore Town, New Jersey, where fights never happen, Hoppy’ in New
York, Pure Tea in San Francisco, Four Seas in Centerville, Massachusetts and
they even visit the best of the chain companies: Ben & Jerry’s. The founders are still there in the footage,
but have sold the company since the taping.
There is even a visit to a college and brief history about the advent of
the classic treat. The tale of how 28
flavors put Howard Johnson’s on the map.
There are also a couple of cone factories and the novelty market is
discusses with the all-time classic: The Eskimo Pie. This is fun viewing.
The 1.33 X 1 image is nicely shot, clean NTSC footage with
great old film clips and memorabilia throughout. The Dolby Digital 2.0 is simple, effective, and clearer than
usual stereo. Extras include previews
for this show, plus the Sebak shows made on Pittsburgh, plus those for national
shows like this one. You also get three
bonus stories on Isaly’s (from Things That Aren’t There Anymore) who
created the immortal Klondike, the biggest rival in ice cream history to the
Eskimo Pie. Klavon’s was a drugstore
that sold ice cream like so many in the early years of both enterprises. From The Strip Show, about
Pittsburgh’s shopping area known as The Strip District, the place featured
Reinhold’s brand of ice cream and they visited the place closed down. Wait until you see what happened next. Frates’ Restaurant is from a national show
about a Massachusetts business renamed for the daughter of the couple who took
it over, that is shaped like a milk bottle.
It is all great stuff.
They also visit a collector’s convention and meet some key
figures in the business, who are big fans.
An Ice Cream Show is outstanding and a must see. Now, to get a cone!
- Nicholas Sheffo