|Helena Fitzgerald||Apr 14, 2016|
Hi, friends. This week there's an extra bonus tinyletter. I wrote this for a (spectacularly great) Volume 1 Brooklyn reading, the theme of which was Dessert, last night, and figured I might as well send it out to all of you.
The best part of any night out in New York has not changed in all the years I’ve lived here. After the party, there’s the afterparty, and after the afterparty, there’s the 24-hour bodega on the way home. I walk to the freezer case in the back, where I balance carefully against its glass and plunge my arms into its depths to get the good popsicles.
In the fanciest delis each flavor gets its own space, a neat rainbow of mango, lime, strawberry, pineapple, and coconut. More often, though, the flavors are all tossed together and buried under the bags of ice. Getting a bag of ice is the only dignified reason to reach into a bodega freezer. I am never getting a bag of ice. I am always digging for popsicles. Specifically, for the coconut Frozfruit bars.
Frozfruit bars are not sold on amazon, nor on freshdirect or grocery dot com. It is not even possible to buy them on Frozfruit’s website – frozfruit is owned by a company called Blue Bunny, and if you look up Blue Bunny – yes, I’ve done this – they are only available in bulk for sale to retailers. There are no boxes of Frozfruit bars – they only exist as horribly wasteful, perfectly decadent, individually wrapped delicacies. I am not myself a bodega, and I can only have them preciously, at great, stupid cost, one at a time.
In the summer when it’s so hot that the thought of food makes me want to vomit, I sometimes eat them for all three meals. The perfect breakfast is one Frozfruit bar and a cup of coffee. They are the only food that is not disgusting to eat in bed. One of the best testaments to my relationship is that my boyfriend is never embarrassed to go into the bodega, dig through the freezer, and jauntily purchase ten coconut popsicles and nothing else. I do it sheepishly, but he does it with a huge grin. Maybe that’s because, for him, it’s about the love of a person rather than of a frozen dessert item. When he asked what I was going to read about tonight, I told him “well, what do I love most in the world after you and our cat,” and he guessed it immediately.
Feelings about dessert start with childhood. For many of us, in childhood dessert is forbidden, denied and therefore sinful. Desserts are given as rewards, withheld as punishments. Their size and volume is tightly rationed. Desserts denote special occasions.
I first encountered Frozfruit coconut popsicles in the green carts in new york city parks, as a kid. On hot summer days, if my mom was in a particularly good mood, she would buy us each exactly one popsicle. Everything else in the carts was too fattening, all chocolate and ice cream, but Frozfruit were made of fruit. Fruit is good for you!
These popsicles are not good for you. I think I knew this even as a kid. Coconut gets categorized as a fruit and fruits get categorized as virtuous, but do not believe anything coconut tells you. Coconut is a liar. Coconut is fighting outside its weight class and making money on the side putting bets on the fight. Coconut is the sweet thick guilt of getting away with something. The other Frozfruit bars are, arguably, made of frozen fruit. The coconut ones are basically just ice cream.
The thing about adulthood is that you can eat as much ice cream as you have money to purchase. No one stops you from eating ice cream for breakfast, from eating leftover birthday cake and calling it a meal. This is the giddy miracle of moving beyond childhood, and also the sadness of it. Nobody else decides for you what the special occasions are anymore, and therefore everything can be a special occasion. But when everything is a special occasion, nothing is a special occasion.
Even so, to me, unwrapping a Frozfruit popsicle still manages to feel like the moment pitched right at the edge of adulthood, that first second you ever realized you were allowed to eat ice cream for breakfast and no one would stop you, playing on repeat forever.