Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos. -Don Kardong
There’s barely been a day this summer that I’ve not enjoyed a scoop or two of the world’s finest culinary invention. I’ve been on the road three months and my ice cream indulgence is going to catch up to me pretty soon. In one shop in Klamath, CA the scooper asked if I was sure I wanted two scoops. I just narrowed my eyelids and she understood to get her arm down in that barrel of cookies and cream and start digging. Ice cream makes me happy. Memories of my grandfather having a bowl of premium vanilla after supper every night come to mind. My dad and I sneaking off to Carberry’s in Cocoa Beach, Florida for a scoop of one of his rotating favorites and always mint chocolate chip for me is another good one. We’d scoff at generic Baskin Robbins across the street. I’m an expert at finding the best in any town or village. It’s all about the scoopers, the cones, the chalkboard out front, the aroma. I just know.
Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seaside, Oregon definitely made the cut. Two high school aged girls were manning the front (good sign) and
Mike Exinger, CFO Cone Filling Officer, was backstage. Mike and his wife are in their 12th season and make 40-50 gallons of homemade ice cream a week. They stick to the mainstream crowd pleasing flavors. Aztec chocolate is as “kinky” as they get. They make a mean caramel cashew and sell more Oreo ice cream than any other. Mike told me I was lazy for asking the most popular flavor I loved him immediately.
After working various jobs in radio and then as director of marketing research at a firm in Idaho, Mike and his wife wanted to change course and work for themselves. They looked at what they really wanted at this stage in life and packed up for Seaside, Oregon, a place they’d vacationed many times. Their research revealed ice cream is the #1 comfort food for men and women so they converted a shop on Broadway into Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream. They’re open 7 days a week, 8 months out of the year. He does admit his waist expanded a little over the years- an unavoidable consequence of the ice cream game. Their season is winding down and I suggest stopping by before it comes to an end on October 1st.
The thing that makes their ice cream so special is that it’s made fresh daily and has an 18% butter/fat content with no artificial flavors. It rolls out of the tub with little effort but isn’t too soft. It stays firmly on the cone and melts at the perfect pace. You don’t have to race it to the edge of the cone. A cone from Zinger’s is the perfect companion for watching the sun set on the Pacific. Lick at your leisure.
MIKE ZINGER’S RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS:
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO: Mike doesn’t really think of “work” and “happy” in the same sentence. It makes him happy, though, that people come in and say they like his ice cream. He likes seeing the same people year after year. “Ice cream makes people happy. It’s hard not to have fun with that.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SEASIDE, OREGON: It’s a walkabout tourist town and always has been. It’s an authentic town that hasn’t changed very much over the years. Plus, the climate is unbeatable. The weather is perfect.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPY: Always looking for the next passion and continuing to progress.
**MY PICKS FOR DRIVING UP HIGHWAY 101 ALONG THE OREGON COAST**
*COOS BAY: Hit the sand dunes, the beautiful beaches, do some crabbing, and take a surf lesson.
*NEWPORT: 90 miles to the north on 101. I had fish tacos at Cafe Stephanie and definitely recommend this spot. Don’t dally though, this is a spot to eat and move on. Walk on the beach a little and definitely check out Sylvia Beach Hotel— a creatively designed inn with rooms dedicated to famous authors The Hemingway Room, The Agatha Christie Room, The Tolkien Room. Really fun. Paradise for a nerd like me.
*TILLAMOOK: Keep heading north on 101 with a quick stop at Tillamook Cheese Factory. Sample Tillamook cheese and ice cream to your heart’s content. The crowds are thick during the height of the season but worth a stop.
*CANNON BEACH: About an hour north you’ll hit one of my favorite places in the world, Canon Beach. Home of Hay Stack Rock, one of the largest monoliths in the world. There’s always a guide there to tell you about Hay Stack and the tide pools surrounding its base. Stick around for the night and build a little campfire on the beach.
*SEASIDE: End up in Seaside, a throwback of a beach town. There’s a carousel, bumper cars, a tilt-a-whirl, and of course Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream. Make sure to hit one of my favorite book stores while you’re there, Beach Books. Karen will help you find the perfect title for your visit.
Papa John is smiling!