Why Friendly's Wattamelon Roll Is Summer's Best Dessert
Welcome to Sounding Off, where writers have the chance to express their own thoughts on the food and drink world. These opinions belong to the writer, not Tasting Table.
As a kid, having a summer birthday, well, sucked, because it meant missing that once-a-year shining moment when your mom baked delicious homemade treats for 30 of your closest friends and sent you parading into class for your time in the spotlight. (Oh, how things change when you grow up, get an office job and pray for a weekend birthday.)
This stroke of calendar misfortune did, however, come with two significant silver linings that became staples at my July birthday celebration every single year: I got to have my party at the pool—which ruled—and I also got to nix boxed birthday cake from the menu in lieu of the seasonal favorite that is a Friendly's Wattamelon Roll. For you Capricorns out there, that's a dome-shaped mound of heaven refreshing watermelon and lemon sherbert with rich chocolate "seeds" flecked throughout, all coated with unidentifiable green dust that serves as an edible "rind." A creature of habit from a young age, I entered nary a year into the next phase of life without one of these desserts melting in front of me as the candles burned on a hot summer day.
Standing there, slice in hand with chlorine-soaked hair dripping onto the paper plate, I raced to beat the heat using my trusty plastic spoon (a fork wouldn't cut it here, folks) to get every last drop into my mouth before it all turned into soup. I can't tell you what about its flavor I loved so much, but that dessert tasted like magic, like summer, like being a kid whose only care in the world was how many more minutes of pure, unadulterated pool time I had before the lifeguard called break.
Sure, you can try and recreate Wattamelon Roll magic at home or even pick one up at select grocery stores in the dead of winter, but nothing will ever beat the experience of rolling up to the ice cream-only take-out window at the local Friendly's—where a coworker and fellow Friendly's aficionado confessed to smoking her first cig in the parking lot—delirious with anticipation, to pick up the centerpiece of your birthday celebration. It may or may not be the "most amazingly delicious thing you ever did eat in your whole damn life," but I can promise that—even if only for a split second—one bite will make you feel like a kid again, which as the days (and years) go by, is enough for me.
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