By Michelle Railey
Even when melting, there’s something so perfect about a twisty cone (chocolate vanilla twist or swirl; I can’t help it. I’m perpetually age three and they are always twisty cones to me).
Soft serve chocolate plus soft serve vanilla plus one standard American crispy cone “ice cream cup” with a paper wrapper. Just add a warm afternoon. Perfection achieved.
There is no such thing as a bad twisty cone. In fact, I don’t think there’s such a thing as an imperfect twisty cone (okay, if it’s served at a chain or, god help us all, at a buffet)— at least, not if you’re at an actual ice cream stand. You know the type: old-fashioned-y, been there forever, prone to names which include “dairy” or “penguin” or “ice” or “Eskimo.”
Well, it would be too, too easy (and too pretentious and annoying) to go into meta and Platonic Forms and the music of the spheres and the blues of Abbot Suger: Twisty cones are to Abbot Suger’s blues as…
See? Totally obscure and annoying.Talking about the meta-ness of the twisty cone is to utterly deny everything that a twisty cone is.
A twisty cone is nothing more and nothing less than itself. A twisty cone is all it ever needs to be. It can’t be denigrated. It can’t be improved.
And there are times when a twisty cone is all you really need. So, while it would be awesome to review the twisty cone at the Dairy Lodge in Traverse City, I can’t. It’s as good as every other twisty cone around that also comes from an idiosyncratic (Platonic, smirk) ice cream stand. It’s perfect. It’s simple. It. Is.
So, while Traverse City has a couple old-fashioned ice cream stands, I can’t honestly say it’s the twisty cone that elevates Dairy Lodge above Bardon’s Wonder Freeze. Bardon’s Wonder Freeze is on the East Bay and it is painted the color of orange sherbet. It has a fantastically-lit neon orb above it and it has the name “Wonder Freeze.” It’s steeped in nostalgia, too, like the Dairy Lodge, and it’s an excellent spot to grab the twisty cone that will get you over past downtown to the West Bay side where Dairy Lodge is. (Sometimes you need some ice cream to get you through the next few minutes until you get some ice cream. You know how it is.)
Digression: Bardon’s and Dairy Lodge both offer shakes. If you want a shake, go to Don’s Drive-In. That’s the place for shakes. Get yourself twisty cones at both Bardon’s and Dairy Lodge. But go to Dairy Lodge the most frequently for the following reasons: (1) The sign is perfect (but more about that in a minute). (2) They have Dole Whip. Okay, so it’s not actual Hawaiian Dole Whip (see here), but still: They. Have. Dole. Whip. Which is the perfect dessert for a meal that has already included a twisty cone. (3) They are directly across the street from Sleder’s Tavern: perfect food followed by twisty cone with a view of the beach. Dairy Lodge wins the Location Battle. (4) Dairy Lodge offers vegan sorbet. Okay, you’re not actually going to order that because you’re going to be two-handing a twisty cone (with or without sprinkles) and a Dole Whip. But the fact that they care enough to offer vegan sorbet (cranberry pomegranate when we were there) says that the Dairy Lodge loves you and the cows and everyone. (5) If worse comes to worse and you’re still hungry, you can also grab some Dairy Lodge nachos or coneys or another twisty cone. They have many options. The service is good and it’s…It’s the Dairy Lodge, people. Much like the Twisty Cone, it is everything that is good and noble in this world. It is whole in itself and more than the sum of its parts. The Dairy Lodge is meta, too.
One word of warning: cash only, kids. So cash in your Bitcoin or hit the ATM. Cards are not accepted. You will want to know that before you order your twisty cone/Dole Whip combo platter.
About the awesome sign: look at it closely. That inexplicably blond Eskimo in all her weirdo ‘sixties Bettie Page glory, with her broken right hand and her misplaced bustline and her unbelievably sweet face is being replaced. I’m pretty heartbroken about it (and grateful I got there before the sign change). The new sign is certainly similar and it keeps the basic gist of girl-on-igloo; it saves the broken right hand; it bests the old sign by being brunette on one side, blonde on the other (twisty cone!). But the face is wrong and the original is still the best. So (a) hurry and visit the old sign while you can and (b) follow Dairy Lodge on Facebook for all sign-change-related news.
I love this place. The planet needs more ice cream stands. It needs more meta twisty cones. And it definitely needs them at the $1.60 price point. The planet is better for having a Dairy Lodge in it. That’s so meta.