Enter the Chipwich
My grandfather told a lot of stories. I don’t know how much they were embellished, and how much was God’s honest truth. Now I can no longer ask.
But he had one about the Chipwich.
In 1981 these launched and turned the ice cream sandwich world on its head. They were made from two large chocolate chip cookies, surrounding a hefty wedge of vanilla ice cream, and rolled in chocolate chips. They sold for a dollar, which was an unheard-of amount for a frozen novelty at the time. And they were hard to come by. Mostly because they were so popular, they would sell out. People would line up on the streets of Manhattan to eat one of these ice cream sandwiches.
As the story goes, the man behind this ice cream sandwich craze was a patient of my grandfather. And the two of them once had a conversation about what made the Chipwich so special.
Would you believe it’s the cookie?
Ice cream sandwiches are hard. Or rather, they should not be too hard. It’s a fine line. Ice cream is full of moisture, and that can soften up a cookie and make it limp and soggy. You intuitively know about this from every single Good Humor ice cream sandwich you’ve ever eaten.
Actually, that soggy chocolate wafer was always my favorite part of the ice cream sandwich experience. Even as a youngster I had a specific way of eating my ICS. I would grab it from the top and bottom between my thumb and forefinger. And once my fingers were placed, they would remain unmoved. I would eat the sandwich around my fingers, and then when the rest of the frozen treat was consumed, pop the last bit in my mouth.
Doing so would ensure the maximum retention of softened chocolate wafers on my finger pads, which I would then scrape off with my teeth. This last bit was always my favorite part.
Hey! You eat yours your way, and I’ll enjoy mine. Thank you very much.
Anyway, I was saying that ice cream can make cookies soggy. At the same time, since cookies are full of fat, the cold temperatures of the freezer can harden them up into rocks. So finding a cookie that worked well for the Chipwich was a major endeavor that apparently sent its founder around the world and took years of research and development.
Whether or not this is ultimately true, it makes a lot of sense. And this is just one of the reasons why the Ice Cream Sandwich Throwdown is being conducted as a tour rather than a tasting.
The decision of whether to make ice cream sandwiches ahead of time falls on the kitchen. Some might opt to assemble them to order. Others might have them pre-assembled in order to soften the cookie just a little bit. But transporting these desserts in a cooler full of dry ice would change them. And then how long do you let them sit out before the evaluation? All of these small decisions can play a major role in the texture of the cookie. And that’s a critical component of any ice cream sandwich.
So, we go to the source.
Does that mean a lot of driving? Yeah. Does that mean paying a little bit more in the form of a gratuity instead of just buying the sandwich from a cart? It does (FYI gratuities are included in the ticket price). Ultimately though, it should result in a better ice cream sandwich experience.
Amazingly, you can still experience the Ice Cream Sandwich Throwdown for yourself. I had originally thought we would sell out within hours, but apparently that was a miscalculation. So there are still tickets available to help us determine whether the best ice cream sandwich comes from Albany or Saratoga.
I look forward to seeing you there.