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1 Jul 2023
By D. Watkins Editor at Large

NextImg:Frozen cup: When the best part of summer cost just a quarter

I'm old enough to remember back when heaven only cost a quarter. 

And to the overly literal, I don't mean tithing or some religious-themed amusement park or you popping out that shiny quarter to cover your entry fee into the pearly gates. I'm pretty sure that's way more expensive. I am talking about a sweet, syrupy frozen cup on a 95-degree day. That is the heaven I know, and yes, it used only to cost 25 cents.  

My childhood babysitter Boo Boo was always pulling my coat to something. Pulling a person's coat means putting them on, enlightening them with the knowledge they need to better their living experience. Boo Boo introduced me to bitter Maxwell House coffee when I was two years old, showed me how to tuck my shoelaces under my insole when I was too young to tie my shoes, and even though we loved Different Strokes — the show where an old rich white man came to the projects in a limo, and invited two poor Black kids to live in his mansion — she taught me never to trust old rich white men in limos. 

"If you see an old rich white man in a limo around here, baby, you better run and don't stop, don't even look back!" 

All of these life lessons are extremely important and relevant to this day as I still drink my coffee black, and I don't trust old white men and limos. As a matter of fact, I don't trust anybody in a limo (why are there still elongated cars riding around in 2023?). But the most important lesson I ever got from my dear babysitter was the instructions for making and enjoying a frozen cup. 

Not a snowball — a frozen cup. 

Snowballs are everywhere and we don't want to mix the two summer treats. For one, snowballs are more elite because they require both an ice maker and flavored syrups that aren't used for anything else for the most part except making snowballs–– like, are you seriously going to make a cup of egg custard-flavored water? I think not. They are also overpriced. Even back in the day when I was a kid, snowballs always cost between 75 cents and $1.50. Add 25 more cents if you wanted melted marshmallows. That's too expensive, and now they are even higher! I went to a snowball stand last summer, and they were pushing the idea of them being gourmet to justify the ridiculous $5 price tag. 

"Five bucks!" I screamed on the inside, "Like a whole five bucks?" 

Frozen cups are for the people. Boo Boo, always the eager investor, made a killing off of selling $0.25 frozen cups every summer. She had a corner house with a side window, perfect for serving customers. And you knew she had the best because she always sold out. 

Before I introduce you to what heaven tastes like, it's essential to understand the correct way to eat a frozen cup. 

Early on, Boo Boo's frozen cups consisted of Kool-Aid poured into a Styrofoam cup and placed in a freezer. Once they were frozen entirely, she'd crank open that window, and the kids would line up. The early flavors were grape, strawberry, fruit punch and orange—the basic Kool-Aid flavors. These were not heaven. But as her business grew, so did her ingredients, technique and storage. Everything was enhanced except the price.

Before I introduce you to what heaven tastes like, it's essential to understand the correct way to eat a frozen cup. I practically lived at my babysitter's house then, so I used to go into her kitchen and grab a teaspoon, and angle it enough to scrape off this sugary top. A scientist could explain this better, but when you freeze a sugary drink, somehow the sweetest part rises to the top creating a sticky entry point. You don't have to eat the sugary top, but you do have to use that teaspoon to dig a hole into the center of the frozen cup so that you can scrape, scrape, and scrape, filling your spoon with sweet ice from all angles. Once it looks like a hollow cave, you have probably been in the sun long enough for the sugary top to weaken, and you can use the back of the spoon to turn the remainder into slush. Boo Boo's transformation changed all of this. 

Boo Boo was selling out too much, so she purchased the deep freezer to store more frozen cups. She also got tired of people asking to borrow spoons because children who borrow spoons typically never bring them back. Hence, she found a way to revolutionize her product by eliminating the need for a spoon. This is what made it heaven. 

She found a way to revolutionize her product by eliminating the need for a spoon. This is what made it heaven.

Boo Boo did this by purchasing those syrups used for snowballs, yes the elite ones. The new frozen cups recipe was with half Kool-Aid and half snowball syrup –– and she even added one marshmallow that always floated to the top as a chef's kiss. The new method allowed her frozen cups to freeze perfectly. They were easy enough to devour with a plastic spoon if you wanted to be fancy, but also soft enough for us kids to flip the contents upside down, and stuff the larger side back in the cup. From there, we could eat it top-down without teeth and without making a mess. It was perfect. 

I made frozen cups for years and still eat them in my 40s. Except I don't use Kool-Aid, and I don't know if they even still sell the Kool-Aid they gave us back in the day. Instead, I make a smoothie with almond milk, agave, fresh blueberries, spinach, fresh strawberries, a banana, water and raw almonds. After I take it out of the blender, I pour some into a cup to drink now, some into my daughter's little cup, and I put the rest in the plastic cup that I place in the freezer–– because it makes for the perfect adult frozen cup. 

I do miss Boo Boo, and her original invention, but at least I still have my teeth along with those sweet memories. 

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