Blue Earth, Minn., a town some 100 miles southeast of Minneapolis, purports to be the birthplace of the ice cream sandwich. It may not be true, even though it says so all over the Internet, but it's a tasty claim to fame anyway. • The true origin of the ice cream novelty is murky. Some say it was born on the lower east side of New York in 1900, then made famous by street vendors. The It's-It ice cream confection came along about that same time in San Francisco. Way before Rice-a-Roni, it was the city's big treat. • Whatever the origin, the ice cream sandwich screams summer and is a perfect treat for Fourth of July get-togethers. Buy a box or two and both kids and adults will be happy. • The traditional ice cream sandwich is a slab of vanilla tucked between soft chocolate cake wafers. There are many variations on the sandwich part, including outsized chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies.
Try these combinations for homemade ice cream sandwiches:
• Rocky Road ice cream between layers of graham crackers.
• Oatmeal cookies (sans raisins) with Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia.
• Chocolate chip with walnuts and maple vanilla walnut ice cream.
• Chocolate cookies with coffee ice cream.
• Vanilla Wafers with butter brickle (or strawberry or just about anything) for a petite sandwich, great for wee kids.
If you make them yourself, let the ice cream soften on the counter before scooping. Don't microwave ice cream or it may soften more than you want and then you'll have to refreeze and start again. After you make the sandwiches, wrap individually and freeze.
Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor