A Story Of Ice Cream and Passion; Redheads, Brown Cows, and Sister Char

 Flavor #32

A local ice cream parlor invites you to create a new wacky flavor. It needs to channel the very essence of your personality. What’s in it?

An old El Dora milk wagon, once drawn by a horse. This marked the entrance to the El Dora ice cream stand in the early 50s.
An old El Dora milk wagon, once drawn by a horse. This marked the entrance to the El Dora ice cream stand in the early 50s.

(This was posted before, perhaps you missed it, but it is a favorite of mine. It reminds me of my sister.)

In the early fifties, it was a treat for the whole family to get into the car and drive to the El Dora. It was a dairy on Cable Road near the corner of Allentown Road west of Lima, Ohio. Inside the front entrance a long counter stretched with an enormous number of flavored ice creams in five-gallon containers. An iron railing bolted into the floor guided patrons and acted as a crowd control so the next person only approached the counter. Behind the counter, a glass wall separated the ice cream parlor from a full view of the area where the cows were led to be milked. Our family scheduled visits at milking time. Thinking back on this it seems a bit crude and bizarre arranging our day to be there with the certain expectation of watching cows do what cows do do (if you get my point and pardon the pun).

Our family was solidly split when it came to ice cream preferences. Dad and my oldest sister, Becky, always got ‘brown cows.’ They were a thick chocolate frosty – thicker than a shake and thinner than hard-packed ice cream served in a cup. Mom, my sister, Char, and I always ordered a scrumptious ice cream delight called a ‘redhead’ served in a cone.

As years passed the El Dora took on many changes and forms, one constant was the ‘redhead.’ I do not ever recall going into the El Dora and ordering anything but a ‘redhead.’ The ice cream was sort of light red in color with chopped maraschino cherries. I never really associated the flavor with anything else. I thought of it as a flavor on its own. Eventually the El Dora was torn down and replaced by a sports bar and urban sprawl took over the once pristine mid west countryside backdrop.

About twelve years ago Char and I sat back and did some reminiscing. She revealed an even deeper passion for the ‘redhead’ than I ever imagined. She was obsessed with coming up with a concoction that might yield that perfect flavor. She went so far as to track down the last owner of the El Dora and asked for the recipe. He refused to give it to her. The audacity! Frankly, I am surprised she did not try to pull out his fingernails and ‘water board’ him on the spot. Never the less Char had a keen sense of flavor and a tenacity to experiment until she found the right ingredients (it’s a genetic thing).

About a month after our conversation, Char called and invited me over. She said she had something for me. When I got to her home, she pulled a large serving bowl of ice cream from her freezer and handed me a spoon.

“Is this it?” I said.

“Try it.” She said.

I dug-in. “Oh my! This is it.” I nearly came to tears.

Well we stuffed ourselves beyond belief and Char allowed me to depart with the remainder of the bowl for later consumption. In addition, she gave me a bottle of the ‘secret ingredient.’

Here is the simple recipe. Bear in mind like many family recipes nothing is exact.


1. Half gallon of vanilla ice cream (get the best).

2. A jar of maraschino cherries (size of jar depends on your taste).

3. Red food coloring (optional).

4. Shhhh, now here is the ‘secret ingredient’ – cinnamon oil.


1. Allow the ice cream to soften.

2. Drain the juice from the cherries and chop them to whatever size you want.

3. Add perhaps as little as a three or four dashes of cinnamon oil to the ice cream (depends on you). It is easy to add too much. A little goes a long way.

4. Mix the ingredients together. You may add the red food coloring until you get a dull red color or pink (whatever) in order to receive the full visual experience.

You may want to refreeze it, but if like me, dig in immediately.

I have shared this frozen culinary delight with my grandchildren expecting them to greet it with the same enthusiasm that Char and I have. They seem not to enjoy it as we did.

Three years ago my sister, Char, lost her battle with cancer. This is such a good memory for me. I still see the delight on her face at seeing me try my first bite and waiting for my approval.




  1. Hi Kenton,

    Thanks for sharing this great post. I was hoping you might be able to help me spread the word to other writers who may be looking for college funding. We have a $1,500 Flavor of the Month Scholarship that has bascially the same writing prompt. The application is open to students 13 and older. The deadline is quickly approaching (July 31), and we’d love to see some more creative responses than we have received in previous years. Here’s the link, https://www.scholarshipexperts.com/scholarships/our-scholarships/flavor-of-the-month-scholarship, in case you know of anyone who might benefit from this scholarship. Thank you for your help!

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