Date with myself at Frankie & Jo’s in Seattle

I used to think that going out for ice cream had to be a social experience. After all, those childhood memories of sharing dripping cones on family vacations are a major reason why I love ice cream to begin with. So, for most of my life, I wouldn’t have dreamed going out for an ice cream alone. While I’ll almost always prefer to share ice cream with friends or family, I’ve recently begun to experiment with going out by myself. There was a time (not too long ago) when I wasn’t comfortable being alone, so I’ve been on a quest to learn to be my own best companion. After all, the only person I am with 24/7 is me!

Last time I flew to Seattle for the weekend, I beat K to the city by several hours (he was working down in San Francisco). My body clock thought it was 11pm, but it was still early local time and very light. I love the long days of early summer in Seattle! Rather than curl up on our hotel bed, I decided to attend to my grumbling tummy and venture out to visit a new ice cream spot in Capitol Hill that my father-in-law had tipped me off to.

Frankie & Jo’s is only six months old but is already making a big splash online and in social media. It is the first entirely-vegan and gluten free “plant-based” ice cream spot in town. Like my beloved FoMu in Boston, most of the ice creams at Frankie & Jo’s are made with coconut milk instead of dairy. I’m not vegan by any means, but I really enjoy coconut-milk ice cream.


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After a long walk in the warm evening sun, I was happy to spot the cheerful bright orange sign outside of Frankie & Jo’s. The shop is on the small side, and the interior is uber-hip, with bold green palm trees on the wall, real potted plants, and slate walls. Flavors, toppings, and prices are posted on a giant mirror hanging on the wall. It looked fantastic in person but did not make for good pictures!

There were a dozen flavors on the board, including one sorbet and three rotating seasonal flavors. None of the flavors are what I’d call “traditional.” I recognized the Salty Caramel Ash and Gingered Golden Milk from social media. The sorbet, Beet Strawberry Rose, also sounded fun. I was in the mood for something hearty, so the richer-sounding flavors caught my eye: Chocolate Mint Brownie, California Cabin (smoked vanilla and fir needle ice cream with black pepper cardamom shortbread), Mexico Morning (coffee ice cream with almond shortbread and dulce de leche), and Tahini Chocolate.

I ended up ordering a standard-size scoop of the Tahini Chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone. I’d read about Frankie & Jo’s maple-vanilla waffle cones, which are gluten-free and vegan. Since I was a bit hungry, I decided to indulge. The standard size runs $6, and a waffle cone is a $2 upcharge. So, this was a pricey ice-cream cone, but I felt okay about it because of the high-quality and unusual ingredients.


The verdict? It took just one bite for me to fall in love with Frankie & Jo’s. The Tahini Chocolate ice cream was sweet, salty, and nutty. Unlike with most coconut-milk ice creams, I couldn’t pick up on the coconut at all. The texture was thick and creamy, with a good bite and a few chewy bits of tahini. I’m guessing that the light brown swirl was chocolate sauce, but I couldn’t detect a chocolate flavor. But all was forgiven because this ice cream was divine. My pleasure was doubled when I got down to the cone; the maple-vanilla waffle cone tasted more like a crispy cookie than a waffle cone. The flavors of maple and brown sugar complemented – and maybe even enhanced – the rich tahini ice cream. Between Frankie & Jo’s, Glass Bottle Creamery, and Moo Shu Ice Cream, it’s been a good year for gluten-free waffle cones!

It was such a lovely evening in Seattle that I walked with my cone over to Cal Anderson Park. Sitting on the bleachers and watching a recreational baseball game in progress, I felt quite happy as I savored every last bite of ice cream. Satisfying, delicious and plant-based. What a wholesome date night with myself 🙂

The Stats:
Frankie & Jo’s
1010 E Union Street
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 257-1676

Glass Bottle Creamery: New Kid on the Island

Vashon Island is my home away from home. Since my first visit in 2008, Vashon has occupied a special place in my heart. My in-laws own a small house overlooking Puget Sound, and K grew up spending weekends, holidays, and big chunks of summer vacation on the island. It usually takes about an hour to travel from downtown Seattle to the island, but you’re ultimately at the mercy of the ferry schedule. It can be a hassle getting here, but I promise you that your blood pressure will drop the moment you arrive on the island. Vashon feels like another world; a bit rural, with its plentiful livestock and very few chain stores (not even a Starbucks!). Vashon has a reputation for being quite hippie and alternative, but with an old-fashioned sense of community and hospitality.

K’s friend recently got married in Seattle, and we decided to spend the night before the wedding on Vashon. We headed there straight from the airport and made pretty good time. Hungry after our cross-country travels, we stopped for a late brunch of chilaquiles and salad at The Hardware Store Restaurant. The restaurant is located “downtown”, which is where the grocery store, pharmacy, and other restaurants are located. We ran a few errands before heading to the house, although the last errand wasn’t an errand at all: swinging by the Glass Bottle Creamery.

There are a couple spots to grab ice cream on Vashon, but no shops specifically dedicated to ice cream. There’s an ice cream counter at the front of the grocery store and at the back of the Vashon Island Coffee Roastery. While the ice cream is good, it just doesn’t feel super special. But a couple years ago, the talented Samantha Weigand moved from Washington, DC to Vashon Island to open a bakery. That next summer, K and I asked Samantha to bake our wedding cakes. She outdid herself, producing two amazing cakes. One vanilla cake with passion-fruit curd and buttercream and one gluten-free chocolate cake with coconut frosting. Both were surprisingly delicious, and the cakes were completely demolished by the end of our wedding night.

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After slowly building quite a following through her bakery, Samantha decided to expand and bought a small storefront downtown. She opened Glass Bottle Creamery, selling high-quality, local dairy products and homemade ice cream! While it’s been open for about a year, I had yet to try the ice cream. The lines were always long, or I was too full after lunch or dinner downtown, so the stars never aligned for me. But on this rainy Saturday afternoon, the shop looked warm and inviting and I had room in my tummy for dessert.

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Like the bakery, Glass Bottle Creamery is decorated in soft baby blues, whites, and pops of pink. There’s two big glass refrigerators — one stocked with ice cream sandwiches, cakes, and pints, and the other with milk, yogurts and cheeses.

Keeping with its minimalist vibe, there are just a few flavors posted on the wall — but they all sounded lovely. There were even a couple dairy-free options for the vegan and lactose-intolerant crowd. While the Toasted Coconut and Peanut Butter Cup definitely piqued my interest, I decided to keep things interesting with Peach Cardamom.

As someone who avoids gluten, I’ve always appreciated the diverse and delicious gluten-free options at Samantha’s bakery. She continues this tradition at Glass Bottle Creamery, noting gluten-free flavors and also offering gluten-free cones for a small $0.50 surcharge. I asked for one scoop of Peach Cardamom in a gluten-free cone, and the friendly young woman behind the counter asked me if I wanted a cake cone or a waffle cone. I can’t remember the last time I had a GF cone that wasn’t a cake one, so I was incredibly excited for this waffle cone. It set me back around five dollars.

img_0739The verdict? This ice cream fulfilled a craving I didn’t even know I had — a craving for sweet, creamy ice cream in a crisp homemade waffle cone. The ice cream was served at the perfect temperature for me, frozen solid and just soft enough to get a good lick. I was glad that the Peach Cardamom was light on the cardamom spice (which I often find overpowering). The peach flavor was delicate yet distinct, and there was no weird fake aftertaste. What really took this ice cream over the top was the CONE. Oh my goodness, it was delicious enough to eat on its own. It was crisp, textured, and a bit sugary… almost like those Italian “pizzelle” cookies.  I have high expectations for anything Samantha makes, and she appears to really have outdone herself with Glass Bottle Creamery.

The Stats:
Glass Bottle Creamery
17637 Vashon Highway SW
Vashon, WA 98070

An Ice-Cream Lover’s Best Friend: Husky Deli

I’m a sucker for a good “mom & pop” store. Especially one with a story. And, boy, does Husky Delicatessen in West Seattle have a good one!

The boyfriend and I spent last weekend on Vashon Island – walking along the beach, grilling grass-fed and free-range steak, reading by the wood-burning stove, drinking rice milk lattes, and weaving hemp necklaces (only the last is a joke). On the ferry ride back to Seattle on Sunday afternoon, my stomach started to growl. Lucky for me, our travels took us straight through the heart of West Seattle – with its bounty of coffee shops, bakeries, and delis. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and typed “ice cream” into Google Maps. Located right ahead of us on California Ave was Husky Deli. Yeah right, I thought, Like a deli serves anything other than Good Humor bars. But low and behold, a neon “Fresh Ice Cream” sign greeted us as we pulled up to the Deli.

It was quite crowded inside, with what looked like a young girls’ soccer team celebrating a win with ice cream. The store was larger than I’d expected, with a full-service deli, a chocolate and candy counter, wine section, and plenty of domestic and imported delicacies (mustard, pickles, etc). Given the hustle and bustle, I didn’t waste any time perusing the store before joining the line for ice cream. While I stood in line, I pulled up a couple newspaper articles about the business on my iPhone.

As it turns out, Husky Deli has been making their own ice cream for over 75 years. Herman Miller started the family-operated business in 1932, when he bought an old grocery store and installed an ice-cream-making machine by the front windows. Miller gained local fame with a special frozen creation – similar to the Nestle Drumstick – filling a cone with vanilla ice cream before dipping it in chocolate and peanuts. He called his creation “The Husky,” and soon re-named the entire store after its most-popular item. In those early years, Husky Deli sold the cones to the local public school system. And to this day, the Miller family swears that “The Husky” is what got their business of the ground. So when the Great Depression hit, Miller and his family repaid West Seattle for their business by accepting “IOUs” when folks couldn’t afford to pay for household groceries. And the West Seattle community has been loyal to the Husky Deli ever since.

These days, Herman’s grandson Jack is steering Husky Deli into the 21st century. Husky Deli still makes all of its ice cream in-store, but they’ve cranked up both the options (there are now 45 flavors) and the volume (churning out as much as one thousand gallons per week). But Husky Deli still keeps its prices low – a tough feat for small businesses these days. Prices are so reasonable, in fact, that I decided to spring for the medium-sized serving. Husky Deli calls this size a “Single” – inaccurately named because it consists of two large scoops. A quick Yelp search told me that Husky Flake was a “must-try” signature flavor, but I was having trouble deciding on my second scoop. The list of flavors was pulling me in so many directions… Should I go for an adult-esque Kona Koka Rum or Strawberry Grand Mariner? A tropical twist with Macadamia Nut or Banana? Or a chocolate creation like Caramel Pecan Fudge or Rocky Road? I decided that I was in the mood for chocolate (let’s get real – this isn’t a mood… it’s my state of being). The chocolate-based Raspberry Decadence looked interesting, but then I heard someone order Swiss Chocolate Orange. One of the gals behind the counter replied that it was her favorite flavor, too. And if that’s not a good endorsement, I don’t know what is! When I reached the front of the line, the lady made my day by agreeing to split my “Single” cup into three flavors, so I could try all three.

The verdict? First of all, Husky Deli doesn’t skimp on its serving sizes. And I seriously respect “mom & pop” establishments that don’t charge an arm-and-a-leg for their goods. The bad news: the ice cream was a bit too soft in consistency for me. But I’ll blame those ten-year-old girls for this transgression – not Husky Deli – as I’m sure the freezer cases were open for a while to fill all those orders. Consistency aside, I was impressed with the flavor intensity of Husky Deli’s ice cream. These family-friendly establishments often play it “safe,” serving bland flavors that don’t offend picky palates. And while Husky Deli’s flavors will never sucker-punch your taste buds, the ones I tried did live up to their names. My favorite (by far) was Swiss Chocolate Orange. It immediately made me think of those dark chocolate oranges my dad sometimes gets at Christmas time. The chocolate flavor was deep and paired well with the slightly-acidic-but-sweet orange essence. Coming in second place for me was the Raspberry Decadence – chocolate ice cream with thick swirls of raspberry jam. Again, I was reminded of my dad. He eats jam daily (usually multiple times a day), and raspberry is one of his favorite flavors. But only if it has seeds, which is the kind Husky Deli uses for this ice cream. The chocolate paired well with the tart raspberry swirls, and the seeds added another layer of texture. Sadly, I was less-than-impressed with the Husky Flake. The golden-vanilla base lacked the depth of Husky Deli’s chocolate ice creams, and the chocolate flakes added very little flavor themselves. While there was a copious amount of flakes, they were so teeny-tiny that the chocolate flavor was lost. I can see why the kiddos would like Husky Flake – but it was far from memorable. But the Swiss Chocolate Orange alone is reason enough to come back to Husky Deli again and again.

The best stuff was hidden underneath!

The Stats:
Husky Deli
4721 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 937-2810

Let Them Eat Cake-Inspired Ice Cream!

Cake and ice cream are a match made in heaven. But you often have to choose one or the other. In DC, you go to Georgetown Cupcake or Crumbs for your cake fix, and then head over to FroZenYo or Pitango for ice cream. In the other Washington, Seattle is not immune to the cupcake craze, and a number of funky bakeries cater exclusively to those who prefer their cake in cup form. One of the most popular cupcake bakeries around is Cupcake Royale, which now boasts six locations in the greater Seattle area. Personally, I’ve never been that interested in Cupcake Royale… even though they offer gluten-free cupcakes for folks like me. At the end of the day, I’d rather eat ice cream than cake. But this year, Cupcake Royale found their way to my heart by launching a cupcake-inspired ice cream line.

Last week, my West Coast work trip brought me to Seattle. And I took the opportunity to schedule some “girl time” with my boyfriend’s mom, Jan. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Jan’s sweet tooth rivals mine. So I couldn’t say I was surprised when she suggested an ice cream date. But when she suggested trying Cupcake Royale’s new downtown location, I paused. I wasn’t sure if there’d be a flavor for me; what were the chances that they’d use the gluten-free cupcakes in any of their ice cream flavors? But I agreed to give it a shot, and we set a time to meet. After all, I wouldn’t starve. If gluten-full cupcakes were involved in every ice cream flavor, I could always eat a gluten-free cupcake.

 Cupcake Royale’s newest shop is located right downtown at 108 Pine Street – just a block away from Pike Place Market. I know the area quite well, as I used to walk down Pine Street every day on my way to work. And let’s just say that my figure is glad that Cupcake Royale wasn’t downtown when I lived in Seattle… Because this location offers all 14 cupcake-inspired ice cream flavors crafted by Cupcake Royale. When Jan and I stepped inside, we were both surprised by how ice cream-focused the store was. Since Cupcake Royale is best know for its cupcakes, I assumed ice cream would be a side note and the freezer marginalized to a corner. Boy, was I wrong! Cupcake Royale appears to be giving its ice cream just as much focus and care as they give their cupcakes. Not only do they serve cups and cones of ice cream, but there’s also sundaes, milkshakes, icebox cakes, and macaroon ice cream sandwiches to be had. Oh – and who could forget the red velvet waffle cones?
Jan and I arrived at Cupcake Royale during a rare slow time, so the friendly employees were happy to discuss the different ice cream flavors with us. Some flavors are indeed made with chunks of actual cupcakes, chopped up and mixed into Cupcake Royale’s homemade ice cream. These “Cupcakes n’ Cream” flavors include Peppermint Party (chunks of Peppermint Party cupcakes mixed into organic mint ice cream) and Red Velvet (cupcakes of the same name blended into a cream cheese and buttermilk base). But other flavors are loosely inspired by popular cupcake creations but don’t include cake chunks. Great news for the gluten-free crowd! These “Bakeshop Inspired” flavors include Burnt Caramel with Sea Salt (self-explanatory) and Bananaza (roasted banana and rum base blended with homemade caramel sauce and brownie chunks). A couple other “Bakeshop Inspired” flavors jumped out to me. What the heck is Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack? The man behind the counter told me it was maple ice cream infused with Woodinville Whiskey and loaded with bits of housemade bacon brittle, or – as Cupcake Royale customers nicknamed it – “crack.” This all sounded amazing to Jan and me. But when we tried a sample, we both thought it was a bit too salty and strong on the whiskey (neither of us are big whiskey fans). Next up was the Washington Hazelnut Brittle with Salted Ganache. Is there anything better than a sweet and salty ice cream with a hefty crunch? I think not. Jan tried a sample and swooned before ordering herself a scoop. Given our similar tastes, I jumped the gun and ordered a small cup as well.

The verdict? I daresay this ice cream was richer than any cupcake I’ve had. For this popular flavor, Cupcake Royale takes its vanilla ice cream and blends in salted ganache and chunks of brittle made with Washington hazelnuts. Everything is made in-house with local ingredients – and it shows. The vanilla ice cream is everything it should be: sweet, creamy and rich. Definitely not “light.” And the mix-ins? They were simply out of this world. The salted ganache was soft and tasted almost of caramel. The salt wasn’t overpowering but added complexity and depth. And the hazelnut brittle was comfort food for the sweet addict. My only complaint is that this ice cream was so rich! It left me with a bit of a tummyache; the type you got as a kid after too much birthday cake, ice cream, and candy. But, isn’t that the point? And if you ask me, Cupcake Royale has a very bright future in the ice-cream making business.

The Stats:
Cupcake Royale
108 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
5 other locations in the Seattle area (I visited the 108 Pine Street location downtown)
(206) 883-7656


Frozen Yogurt’s Best Friend = Fran’s Caramel Sauce

Salted caramels. Candy-lovers across the country are praising the new salty/sweet trend.

Who started this salt + caramel craze? Many people point to Seattle’s premier chocolatier, Fran Bigelow, who has been pairing salt and caramel for years. Fran’s Chocolates gained notoriety in the other Washington (DC) thanks to President Obama, who is a big fan of Fran’s smoked salted caramels in milk chocolate. This signature Seattle confection is now being replicated by candy companies across the country. Even Trader Joe’s is getting in on the action.

I blame my constant cravings for Fran’s salted caramels on my boyfriend’s mother – who may just be a bigger chocolate fan than me (is that even possible?). The salt + caramel combo just didn’t call my name – until she bought me a fancy box of Fran’s smoked salt caramels in dark chocolate for Christmas. It was all over then. You simply can’t find fault with Fran’s salted caramels. The caramel is rich, buttery, and chewy. The dark chocolate is decadent – in that distinct “I know this isn’t Hershey’s” way. The sprinkle of premium smoked salt brings out the sweet in both. Hook, line, and sinker.

Last weekend, my boyfriend’s mother did it again:

Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce

I knew this spelled trouble. My boyfriend’s mom is a whiz at frozen yogurt making in her Cuisinart, so she whipped some up using Greek Gods Honey Yogurt and a couple giant spoonfuls of Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce.

But she wasn’t done yet. After 20 minutes of churning, she spooned frozen yogurt into bowls and topped them with generous globs of Fran’s Caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt. Fran would be proud.

Worthy of a President

The verdict? Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce is thick, slightly grainy, and a bit chewy. It comes out easily from the jar but isn’t too runny (i.e. can be eaten by the spoonful straight from the jar!). The sweetly decadent caramel fills me with nostalgia – memories of making caramel apples in my parents’ kitchen. I’m already imagining different ways I can put Fran’s sauce to use. Any ideas would be appreciated in the Comments section 🙂

The Stats:
Fran’s Chocolates
Retail stores in Downtown Seattle, University Village and Bellevue 
You can purchase Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce online here.

Keeping Flavors “Weird” at Full Tilt

Seattle is “weird” in the best possible ways. The city is eccentric and dynamic – filled with adventurous people living by the “work hard, play hard” mentality. During the two years I lived in Seattle (between undergrad and grad school), I learned to embrace the weirdness. While I never wore grunge clothes or grew dreadlocks, I dove head-first into the art, music, outdoor adventures, and – of course – the ice cream.

 Full Tilt Ice Cream embodies the quirky, playful and adventurous vibe of Seattle. The popular chain of eccentric ice cream parlors, which originated in South Seattle, is well-known for its “weird” flavors of homemade ice cream. And how often can you drink microbrews and play a variety of old-school arcade games in a local ice cream joint? Well, at Full Tilt, you can do just that. I first visited a Full Tilt a few years back, and I remember being shocked by the neon walls and loud 80s music. The setting offsets the sophisticated flavors in a truly “Seattle” way.

After a fun-filled weekend on Vashon Island with my boyfriend and his parents, I begrudgedly packed for the Sunday night red-eye back to Washington, DC. Sensing my dread, the boyfriend suggested swinging by Full Tilt en route to SeaTac. Luckily, it didn’t take much of a detour to visit the White Center parlor. Located in a “drab” part of South Seattle, the Full Tilt parlor is a beacon of neon lights, loud music, and excited Seattleites. When I opened the door, the scent of made-to-order waffle cones welcomed me. The line was long (to be expected on any warm evening in the usually-rainy city), but that gives you more time to read the day’s flavors.

Waiting in line at Full Tilt
While Full Tilt offers traditional flavors like Cherry Vanilla and Maple Walnut, you may never have heard of some of the options (or at least, I hadn’t). Vanilla and chocolate may be the nation’s top sellers, but Full Tilt customers prefer two “weird” ones: Mexican Chocolate and Ube. I ordered Mexican Chocolate on my first visit – which I expected to be spicy. Not so! Full Tilt creates a warm, complex flavor by combining chocolate, cinnamon, and raw cocoa beans. I enjoyed the flavor, but this time I had my eye on Ube…
“Ube” = Philippine purple yam
After overhearing a teenage girl in line call the Ube “freaking AH-mazing,” my decision was made. Well, half of my decision. At Full Tilt, a Single cup or cone costs $2.50 (love it!) and can be split into two flavors. What should I try alongside the Ube? I considered Salted Caramel, Thai Tea, and Pineapple. But my experience making Choco-Coconut ice cream has piqued my interest in vegan coconut milk concoctions – and Full Tilt offered two: Mint Chocolate and Chunky Peanut Butter. In the end, the peanut butter-loving gal in me just couldn’t resist. (The boyfriend called that one…)
“Single” Cup of Ube and (vegan) Chunky Peanut Butter
The verdict? The quality of Full Tilt’s ice cream is top-notch, and their freezers keep the ice cream nice and firm (a pet peeve of mine: already-melting ice cream). The Ube was, indeed, pretty “freaking AH-mazing.” I’ve never tried the vegetable, but the purple yam flavor was complex, sweet, and reminded me more of butterscotch than a potato. Plus, you can’t beat that purple color. The vegan Chunky Peanut Butter was good, not great. The coconut flavor overwhelmed the peanut butter, and the only real hint of it’s flavor were chunks of peanuts. I’m beginning to wonder if all coconut milk ice creams have this issue? Regardless, these two “weird” flavors melded well and sweetened my departure from Seattle.
What did the boyfriend order? Nothing. He was too distracted.

The Stats:
Full Tilt Ice Cream
Multiple locations in and around Seattle, WA

An Ice Cream Social in the Sky

Good morning, Seattle! I’m in town to accompany the boyfriend to his 10-year high school reunion tomorrow. Last night, I flew on a nonstop United Airlines flight from Washington, DC to Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Because I travel a lot for work, I’ve accrued a bit of status with United. This means that I occasionally receive complimentary upgrades to First Class! Normally, my favorite First Class perk is the free wine (let’s be honest, a bit of alcohol eases any turbulence anxiety). But since United merged with Continental last year, I’ve heard rumors of United serving ice cream in First Class on domestic cross-country flights. Last night, I happily confirmed those rumors.

After a mediocre dinner (chicken and rice), I noticed the stewards maneuvering a small cart into the First Class cabin. My heart leaped. Was it true? Sure enough, I took my headphones off in time to hear the steward ask a man in front of me “Would you care for an ice cream sundae this evening?”

What? I said to myself. I heard about ice cream – but nothing about sundaes! Sure enough, the man was given his choice of three toppings (fudge, caramel or strawberry sauce), whipped cream and chopped walnuts. Usually I’d go for chocolate sauce, but I could see that the bowls of ice cream were already starting to melt – so the last thing I wanted to do was speed up the process with a warm topping. Therefore, I opted for strawberry sauce and whipped cream. Simple but classic.

The ice cream was nothing special – ordinary vanilla bean – and the strawberry sauce clearly came from a frozen container. The whipped cream was definitely a step above Reddi-wip, but nothing to write home about. Yet, somehow, everything tasted better in the sky.

Thanks for the ice cream social, United!