I have always had a soft spot for Carvel Ice Cream Cakes. They are the symbol of childhood birthday parties, melting untidily onto gaily colored paper plates, the chocolate crumbles beckoning as plastic forks bounced helplessly against their frozen surfaces. The sensation of that sweet creamy confection, always with that faint hint of freezer, melting against my tongue was one of boundless pleasure. The strangely flat tasting whipped cream icing dissolving into the sweet icy vanilla which in turn gave way to the crunchy crumbs of moist/crunchy cookie crumbs and then finishing with the dense, cool frozen chocolate cream that comprised the bottom layer. Summer or winter, ice cream cakes were de rigueur in my neighborhood. Pizza to start and goody bags to take home completed the celebratory rituals. To this day the familiar taste of those cakes transports me back to those moments of freedom and happiness, alone in the middle of a party with my ice cream cake.
Occasionally someone who loves me will buy a Carvel Cake as a special surprise. It doesn't happen often, once or twice a year is just about right for my tastes. The sprinkles have changed over the years and the cookie crumbs are not as crisp as I remember, other than those few minor details, the frozen confection remains the same. We always get the traditional birthday cakes, fancy whales or fudgy icing just don't cut it for me. My aunt picked up this last cake and went for the smallest one available-since it was basically just for three of us and failed to notice that it was all vanilla and fat free. The loss of the chocolate was a blow but I soldiered through and tasted the cake anyway. Oddly you wouldn't have guessed that it was fat free if you hadn't read the label. Carvel has never professed to be a super premium brand, instead banking on clear simple flavors and the taste of childhood to draw people in. The cake did it's usual magic and I savored every melting drop. It was the perfect ending to humid, starry evening.