'My favorite ice cream flavor? Have you tried zucchini?'
Choosing an ice-cream cone used to be a simple pleasure.There were three flavors --chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Now there's a whole new wrinkle -- vegetable flavors.At Ted Hansen's Polly Ann Icecream Company in San Francisco you can choose carrot or turnip, sugar beet, pumpkin, zucchini, and dozens more.
One called just vegetable ice cream is a blend of 14 different vegetables -- tomato, sweet pea, asparagus, parsley, string bean, celery, lettuce, watercress, sweet corn, lima, spinach, zucchini, carrot, and beet.
It has a pinkish color and tastes something like V-8 juice or a salad, one customer says.
Owner Ted Hansen says it tastes great and he worked seven years to make it palatable. It comes from his understanding of the way kids feel about vegetables.
"I didn't like vegetables when I was growing up and my grandchildren don't like them. This is a good way to get youngsters used to vegetable flavors," he said.
"I also have miniature ice-cream cones with soft ice cream for small kids who can't handle a big one and often lose the ice cream off the cone before they leave the store."
A veteran ice-cream maker of 14 years, Mr. Hansen has spent some time thinking up some of the names, too. Popeye's Delight is spinach ice cream. I Yam What I Yam is sweet potato. American Beauty is mighty like a rose. Rhubarb is a pleasant tart flavor. Then there is a black vanilla, even a brown vanilla.
"I make flavors to please the customers," he said. Not all are vegetables.
Star Wars is a blue vanilla ice cream with multicolor mini-marshmallows. One called The Tiger is orange with black licorice.
Vegetable flavors are not unusual for sorbets, which are also called ices or sherbets and are served at banquets and dinners to revive the appetite or clear the palate. But sorbets are not ice cream and Mr. Hansen's are.
Hansen has about 300 flavors in his recipe files. He makes a run of 50 at a time, then replaces with a new flavor as they run out so that he's always rotating. The shop is open seven days a week from noon until 1 a.m.
If the new vegetable flavors have not endeared you to owner-ice-cream-maker Hansen, perhaps another unusual feature of his shop will.
A free ice-cream cone is given to every dog accompanied by an adult. These are also small cones and soft ice cream. And if the adult forgets to bring along his pet -- there's a real doggie bag with an ice cream to take home to th e dog.