[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

In the beginning there was vanilla, and it was good. It was very good. Then there was chocolate. And strawberry. And they, too, were good. But then came chocolate chip cookie dough and the world became a different place. The sun shone brighter. The birds sang sweeter. And everyone was happy. So very happy. At least that's how I like to imagine the ice cream creation story.

There are certain ice cream flavors that represent different times in my life. As a really little kid I was all about Smurf ice cream, a blue raspberryish concoction with mini marshmallows. There was only one ice cream parlor near me that served Smurf ice cream, so while that was a rare treat, cookies and cream was my steady. Until I met chocolate chip cookie dough.

In my house there was no eating of raw cookie dough. My mother so firmly ingrained the notion that I would absolutely, positively get salmonella if I so much as thought about eating dough with uncooked eggs. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream was reputedly invented by Ben & Jerry's in 1991, but it might as well have been invented by my cousin Kate. Five years older than me, Cousin Kate was always a life stage ahead of me and the epitome of cool. She introduced me to cookie dough ice cream and it was love at first scoop. If I thought cookies and cream ice cream was awesome, chocolate chip cookie dough was a game changer. If you could put cookie dough in ice cream you could put ANYTHING in ice cream. And somehow my mom was totally cool with me eating cookie dough in ice cream. It's like the vanilla base washed it clean. I felt like such a rebel.

In the twenty plus years since cookie dough ice cream was introduced, the ice cream mix-in category has exploded. Like chocolate chip cookie dough? How about brownie dough? How about brownie dough AND chocolate chip cookie dough? How about chocolate covered potato chips and rum balls? Somehow chocolate chip cookie dough has gone from exotic to an everyday flavor. And as much as chocolate chip cookie dough defined my pre-teen/teen years, I don't cling to it as I once did. I feel a little like I've broken up with my high school sweetheart. We're still on good terms, so it's not awkward in the freezer aisle and I'll admit that I still enjoy the dough on occasion (and I still selectively scoop to ensure that my bowl has the maximum possible amount of dough bits), but I've changed. My sweet tooth is a little less sweet and my tastes veer towards more unusual combos, like coconut curry ice cream or ginger chocolate. But still, I worry, am I an ice cream traitor? Is it wrong to have more than one great ice cream love in a lifetime?

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.


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