Love may fire the soul, but an ice cream soda soothes it. That is what I found out recently when I opened the mail.

Old soda makers wrote in, sharing some of their techniques and reveling in the days when cream was cream and seltzer had squirt.

Since the experts tell us we are supposed to have balance in our diets, I did not confine this column solely to sodas.

I threw in a letter on homemade ice cream as well.

If that is not enough balance for you, chew a carrot as your read this column.

TC 6& Sweet memories of a skilled 'jerk' From: Jerry Rosenthal, Pikesville

Column on ice cream sodas with recipe for coffee soda.

Dear Happy Eater,

If steamed crabs are ambrosia, a well-made chocolate ice cream soda is the nectar of the gods. As for coffee ice cream soda -- BLAAGH!

I was a drugstore "soda jerk" some 50 years ago. In those days most corner drugstores had two fountain taps. One was for plain cold water, the other for carbonated water.

The carbonated tap had two settings. Pushed back, the "seltzer" poured just like plain water; pulled forward, the high intensity jet spurted. It was the judicious use of that tap that differentiated between presentations made for most customers and that made for my friends, relatives, and (of course) myself.

The muddling of the chocolate syrup and -- of milk could be handled in either of two methods. One could use the long spoon to carefully blend the ingredients . . . or several short tugs on the jet of carbonated tap would do the job for you. The latter was when business was brisk.

For most customers the glass was then filled about 1/3 full with the normal flow of seltzer. Vanilla ice cream (2 small scoops) was scooped in and the jet tap would direct a stream at the ice cream.

The result was a white froth, or head, which rose above the top of the glass. I would leave the spoon in the glass, puncture a cherry with a straw and place it, too, in the glass and quickly serve the soda before the head disappeared. This method saved carbonated water and whipped cream (in the 1940s a penny saved was a penny earned).

The second method picked up after the syrup and milk are muddled, and used a little more of each ingredient. The glass was then filled about 2/3 full with a normal flow of seltzer. Ice cream (3 small scoops) is scooped in, virtually filling the glass. It was then topped with whipped cream and a cherry. This method gave more ice cream to eat and more soda to drink.

Eater Replies: You can compare the method you described to the two foregoing and make your own decision. As for me, I have to run since all this has whetted my appetite and I have this crazy craving . . .

A call to arms

From: Rae Miller Heneson, Baltimore

Column remarking on large arms of women who made ice

cream sodas.

Dear Happy Eater,

Since I am from a family of drugstore workers and have loved and made many an ice cream soda, even when my arms were not fat, I loved the article.

Actually my specialty was making a plain chocolate soda and the most luscious milk shake. I made them for the 12 years I worked as a volunteer in the fountain shop of Sinai Hospital. At 72 years old, I still make them.

Eater Replies: I think we are on to something here. The key to a long and happy life is to make chocolate sodas. It involves a moderate amount of exercise, and immoderate amounts of chocolate and cream.

Chocolate chip ice cream revisited From: K. Hanyok, Baltimore

Column bemoaning failed homemade ice cream.

Dear Happy Eater,

This recipe for Quick Tollhouse Ice Cream is fantastic an totally unlike the commercial product. Even though you miss out on the drama of the ice and rock salt and it seems like cheating, it is well worth the guilt.

Quick tollhouse ice cream Yield 2 quarts.

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream

6 ounces tiny chocolate chips

1 cut chopped, toasted walnuts

In heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Bring to boil over low heat, stirring occasionally; boil one minute.

Remove from heat. In blender container combine eggs, vanilla extract and salt; blend at medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add brown sugar mixture; blend at high speed for 1 minute; set aside to cool. In large bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff.

Fold butter-sugar mixture, chocolate chips and walnuts into whipped cream. Pour into foil-lined 9-by-5-by=3-inch loaf pan. Cover with foil. Freeze until firm.

Eater Replies: What, no rock salt! No grinding! No indecipherable principles of super-cooling!

How could this be ice cream?

On the other hand, it does have chocolate and cream in it. So it must be worth a try. For the sake of science.

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