If you're not from the Northeast, chances are you've never heard of a chain called Friendly's.
The only thing you really need to know: The diner-esque restaurants serve gargantuan sundaes.
As a kid, I remember them being monstrous: giant glass sundae dishes overflowing with mounds of ice cream, rivers of hot fudge, heaping swirls of whipped cream. Whenever we ate there, my brother and I would race through our patty melts to get the to what we considered the main event.
My order was always the same: the Reese's Pieces Sundae. Like many of my contemporaries, my fascination with the candy-coated peanut butter candy can be traced directly to the movie E.T.—a product placement so crucial, so brilliant, it reportedly increased the candy's profits by 65 percent. To this day, it's still my favorite candy, entirely due to its affiliation with a cuddly, squat, wide-eyed glowing-fingered little alien dude.
The Friendly's sundae is basically a sweet, salty delivery system for those Reese's Pieces: five (five!) scoops of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, marshmallow, chocolate sprinkles. It's still around, though I haven't confirmed this first-hand for years.
Flash forward to Fourth of July weekend, 2014, in Cape Cod. My good friend Emily, knowing that I have what could be described as a mild ice cream dependency, suggested that we try a spot in Orleans that serves a sundae called the E.T. Cone Home. Turns out, Mandy's Cape Creamery is actually housed in a former Friendly's.
Served in a tall plastic cup, Mandy's version swaps out the marshmallow and sprinkles for whipped cream and crumbled sugar cone bits—an added layer of texture and crunch that my (ahem) more nuanced adult palate could appreciate.
The sundae is easy to make at home. Everything can be store-bought: a couple scoops of vanilla, globs of warmed-up hot fudge, a little thinned-out peanut butter, a sprinkling of Reese's Pieces and sugar cone jags that you can smash any which way you like. Andy, our food editor, couldn't live with himself without making at least one topping from scratch, so we whipped up some fresh cream when we made it in the office.
I've found my new/old go-to ice cream dessert. And I'm pretty sure E.T. would light up after a bite or two.
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