Sunday Sundaes – A tradition going back at least twenty years, signaling long lines at the DC, happy smiles on students’ faces, and an affirmation of everything classically silly, sweet and ’Fordian. But then two weeks ago, a murmur arose in the DC, a murmur that chilled the air and caused outrage, swelling as the number of diners increased. It was the end of soft serve. Where a cheerful dispenser of creamy, cool sugar once stood was a freezer of hard ice creams and two steel scoopers. Napkin notes piled up on the comment board, some illustrated, some cordial, some slightly neurotic. The question on everybody’s lips was, where did the soft serve go?
The answer to this mystery lay with our Bi-Co director of dining services, Bernie Chung-Templeton. According to Chung-Templeton, “The soft serve machine came with the product we used and the product became too expensive…. We offer two other forms of ice cream and six other desserts. We needed to protect main items—good meats, fresh fruits, breads.” She added that both the Erdman and DC machines were removed at the end of last year.
Bryn Mawr still has a soft serve machine, yet another illustration of the perceived, perhaps folkloric, differences between the two colleges’ food quality. In response to this point, Chung-Templeton explained that the ice cream “isn’t the same product that was removed from the Haverford DC and Erdman Dining Hall.” As to the allusion to the rivalry between the Bi-Co cafeterias, Chung-Templeton asked that students consider that “the recipes are the same, the vendors are the same, and the menus are ninety-percent the same.” She conceded that some differences occur because Haffner, a separate facility in a separate building from Erdman, can support specialties like soft serve and fresh dough pizza, but that most differences are really “based on student preferences.” Lastly, the director highlighted the importance of communication. “It’s through continued communication that we get better. We [the staff, chefs, and administration] all want to do a good job.
So where does that leave the soft serve? For now, in Haffner’s dessert shop. While Chung-Templeton emphasized that dining service is “working on bringing it back,” it is clear that we may have to shift our passion for soft serve elsewhere, at least for the next few months. Some students, like Jess Poling ’15 and Will Leeser ’15 creatively utilized traditional soft serve toppings like gummy bears and M&Ms and made cereal sundaes. Others have devoted themselves to the ice cream bars—Klondike, Hershey’s, and others—available even on non-sundae days. Leeser suggested that the problem is not just the lack of soft serve but the current system of hard serve. “The fact that there isn’t always running water [available at the ice cream counter] means the water runs out, and then it means you can’t clean the scoops. If they all had separate scoops it would be better.”
Ari Giles ’15 contends it’s not the ‘ick’ factor that makes her steer clear from the new system, but the potential health issue. “The scoops can create a problem for those who are allergic to products in certain ice cream flavors because there is a chance of cross-contamination…. However, the DC is usually quite sensitive about these issues.”
So it seems that maybe the sundae situation, if not immediately addressed to the satisfaction of diehard soft serve students, could be made, well, more palatable in general. But do not despair. As many a depressed teen can attest, when life falls apart, gallons of ice cream never fail to comfort. And besides this testament of ice cream’s invincibility, its history at Haverford suggests a defiance of obstacles—the law included (maybe). As to the origin of the sundae bar’s placement on the calendar, Chung-Templeton suggested that perhaps there is “some truth” to the idea that the sundae bar was initiated on Sundays to avoid censure from health inspectors, assuming they would not be visiting Haverford on their day off. “It’s not entirely legitimate. Health inspectors would have objected to the scoops. But it was before my time.” As an afterthought, she added, “Maybe we should do all our illegal things on Sundays then…”
- Kat Poje ’16