A boy will do almost anything for ice cream.

I wasn’t going to write this, but I have to. Not only for me, but for the good of our children, and our children’s children. No matter how hard it is to address. I’m talking, of course, about the highly controversial issue of homemade ice cream.

Ice cream wasn’t always under scrutiny like it is today. It used to be okay to eat ice cream. But then, suddenly it wasn’t okay, and lots of companies started coming out with healthy frozen yogurt.

A few years later, news reports claimed frozen yogurt was just as bad as ice cream. So they came out with “sugar-free” frozen yogurt, made with “aspartame.” And the world as we knew it fell apart.

Aspartame is actually a lot of fun to say. It seems like a dirty word, but isn’t. You can use it in social settings and it’s acceptable.

EXAMPLE: “Have you seen traffic today? It’s a real pain in the aspartame.”

So Americans were eating sugar-free yogurt sludge by the gallon, hoping to live to be one hundred, and doing step aerobics. Life was all right again.

Companies started going bonkers and making bizarre frozen yogurt flavors like Blackberry-Garbanzo Bean, and Coffee-Bubble Gum, and Toenail.

Then, reports came out with new information claiming aspartame was deadly.

One report stated: “Aspartame turns your bodily fluids into formaldehyde, side effects include: Numbness, tingling, and profound interest in Jazzercise.”

All of a sudden, journalists were telling mankind to stay away from anything that even remotely looked like sugar-free frozen yogurt, and for mankind to eat quinoa instead.

Which is probably why a few months ago, I found two fifty-pound bags of red quinoa in our pantry. It wasn’t long before we were eating what looked like chicken feed for every meal until sometimes—especially if we sat in one place for too long—grade-A eggs would start appearing beneath our haunches.

But mankind can only go so long without ice cream. So one night, my wife announced that we were having a frozen surprise for desert. But it wasn’t the real thing.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It’s frozen coconut milk.”

I took a lick. It was sweet, but not in a good way. It tasted like whatever I had just licked was a food related to the Sheetrock family.

“Why does it taste funny?” I asked.

“It’s called stevia. It’s a plant-based sweetener.”


She showed me the bottle. When she unscrewed the child-proof lid, white dust filled the air and got into my nasal passages and mouth.

Ever since that day, I have had this persistent taste in my throat that reminds me of the flavored laughing gas Doctor Bob used when I had a tonsillectomy in first grade.

Speaking of Doctor Bob, do you know how that old man convinced me to agree to a tonsillectomy?

Doctor Bob said: “Sean, the best part about getting your tonsils out is that you get to eat ICE CREAM ALL DAY LONG.”

A boy will do almost anything for ice cream.

It was all I needed to hear. I agreed to go peacefully. They put me in a little buttless gown and Doctor Bob placed me in the front seat of a miniature Plymouth Belvedere with pedals.

I pedaled myself to the operating room, laughing with Doctor Bob. Just a couple of guys on our way to major surgery, that’s what we were.

When I reached the operating room, something was wrong. I saw four men dressed like butchers, wearing masks, holding sharp instruments.

So I turned my Plymouth around and I got my little aspartame out of there.

But Doctor Bob caught me. By then, I was kicking and screaming for my mother. I was making promises to never play with Granny’s cigarette lighter again, or try to paint the cat, or use the word beginning with the nineteenth letter of the alphabet.

They held me down, placed a rubber mask over my face, and drugged me with scented laughing gas.

And that’s what stevia tastes like.

So I don’t want stevia, or quinoa, or frozen yogurt, or laboratory rats, or Plymouth Belvederes. I want America to go back to a time when ice cream was good, and good people ate it.

I would also like for people to get along. And for dogs to get adopted. And for good music to makes its way into the ears of children.

And for lonely people to find love. And for porches to be built on the fronts of houses instead of the backs. For neighbors to wave at each other.

And most of all, I hope the man who wrote me a hateful email this morning knows that I don’t hold it against him. Because everyone has a bad day. I get it. Sometimes, people just need to let off steam.

But if anyone were to ask me, which they didn’t, I think this world needs more homemade ice cream.

And less aspartame.


  1. Sandi. - July 9, 2019 6:53 am

    Sean, I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding homemade ice cream in comparison to the stuff sold in stores with a list of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. I’m guessing your post will garner a few simple recipes for this delicious, homemade frozen treat! I’m not a coffee drinker, but adore the taste of coffee ice cream and wish I had a simple recipe for it that’s been proven to taste good.

  2. Bud Carroll - July 9, 2019 6:59 am

    Ah, childhood memories of homemade ice cream on public holidays: Ten families sharing two flavors: one vanilla and one wonderfully over-ripe peaches. And all those polite battles over who got to lick the ‘twirler’. But I do like quinoa! Uncle Bud from Hong Kong

  3. Martha Black - July 9, 2019 8:31 am

    “And for porches to be built on the fronts of houses instead of the backs. For neighbors to wave at each other.”

    Amen! Hallelujah! Testify! FRONT porches, BIG ones that wrap around the sides under HUGE shade trees. A PORCH swing (heck, make it two….. one on the left & one on the right) & a bright RED three seater glider. A LARGE ice cream churn or two going round as hard as they can while a small child sits on top with a towel under their bottom to help keep it steady if it gets to rocking. If you see a neighnnor going by wave ’em to stay a while. Just leave your aspartame in the car, we use hi-test pure white sugah ’round heah…….

    • D B - July 9, 2019 10:11 am

      Love this Martha! I remember waiting my turn to sit on that ice cream churn and I want that wrap around porch. Takes me back to happy days surrounded by folks I love and miss. I’m sure there will be ice cream in heaven. Thank you for the trip down memory lane!

  4. GaryD - July 9, 2019 9:33 am

    Try Blue Bell. Second only to home-made.

    • Jean - July 9, 2019 1:29 pm

      Just make sure no one has licked it and stuck it back into the freezer.

  5. D B - July 9, 2019 10:03 am

    Delightful Sean, thank you again! Wishing you a great day, and homemade ice cream!?

  6. Sue Riddle Cronkite - July 9, 2019 10:04 am

    I’m digging out my old hand-geared homemade ice cream maker.

  7. Vanessa - July 9, 2019 10:11 am

    Sean— once again I have to say this is my favorite piece you’ve written! Too many genius things in here to mention. Thank you for starting my day off right. And, I hope my message counterbalances the bad one you received.

  8. Jean - July 9, 2019 10:23 am

    I clearly remember the day they took my tonsils out…yep I didn’t go peacefully either!
    one thing about all the sweet substitutes….they aren’t the real thing..and you either eat them or go back to what is good. I say real stuff!
    PS ignore the baddies….they always want to rain on somebody’s parade.

  9. Penn Wells - July 9, 2019 10:34 am


  10. Camille - July 9, 2019 10:49 am

    What a jewel you are, Sean. I love everything about you and I am as excited as homemade peach ice cream to get your new book, “Stars of Alabama” delivered to my kindle today, then I’ll get the hardback and sit on the porch and reread it!

  11. Marisa - July 9, 2019 10:55 am

    Thank you for my early morning laugh!! And I have some homemade ice cream waiting for me in the freezer — YUM!

  12. Phil S, Montgomery, AL - July 9, 2019 11:16 am

    You nailed it as usual, Sean, in your good ol’ down home, country, aspartame-slapping way. I laughed all the way through this one. Jamie is not trying to poison you or strangle your appetite. She obviously loves you and wants to keep you alive for a long, long time – or maybe until you buy more life insurance. Meanwhile, learn to like Stevia (sounds like a name for an evil live-in relative).

  13. Joe Patterson - July 9, 2019 11:21 am


  14. Nona - July 9, 2019 11:22 am

    I laughed until I cried trying to read this. You are crazy!
    I agree. Folks are now thinking its healthy to put “real” butter in their coffee. It’s good for them. Wow! All this time they could have just carried on with real cream. It’s the same thing but someone hasn’t told them yet what to do. People are nuts .
    You make me laugh!!

  15. Nancy Miller - July 9, 2019 11:25 am

    You are the best!!!! Don’t know what I would do without Sean Of The South. Drinking my coffee on the porch with my dog beside me and reading Sean Of The South. Best way to start a day. Thank you for being here !!!!’

  16. Mike Mc - July 9, 2019 11:27 am

    Ok, how is it 0623 hrs (am) and I’m reading comments dated and timed to after 11 O’clock? Are all those folks in Europe, or are they just showing off? But I just wanted to say, don’t be like those idiots LICKING THE ICE CREAM IN THE STORE and putting it back on the shelf. Now I’m worried when I eat up my supply and have to buy more.

    • Sandi. - July 9, 2019 9:58 pm

      Mike, the time stamp on replies here is about five hours ahead of the actual time in the U.S.

      • Janet Mary Lee - July 9, 2019 11:57 pm

        But WHY? Sandi . Still the unanswered question in the pursuit of this knowledge!!!! 🙂

        • Sandi. - July 10, 2019 12:38 am

          I’d like to know the answer, too, Janet! Sean? Clue us in, pretty please with ice cream on top!

  17. Donna - July 9, 2019 11:50 am

    I love this!
    I love homemade ice cream!

  18. Carolyn - July 9, 2019 11:51 am

    Going to make homemade ice cream today and will add an extra scoop of sugar just for you, Sean!
    I’m looking forward to getting your book….coming today‼️

  19. Terri - July 9, 2019 11:51 am

    Cream, sugar, eggs, real vanilla and throw in the fruit. That’s the way I make the custard for my ice cream. No fake stuff here, no sir. Love you much Sean!

  20. Bobbie - July 9, 2019 12:10 pm

    Have said this before, but this is really the best! I laughed so hard my dog was interrupted from her morning nap. I can picture you in that pedal Plymouth thinking about eating ice cream all day! Sean, you do have a special gift…to make people laugh, or sometimes cry to hear the compassion in your words. What a blessing you are! I’m 83 and have eaten ice cream all my life…and still kicking. Eggs you remember were baaad for you, then all of a sudden they were ok. Who decides all this stuff?
    Looking forward to reading your book…know it’ll be a best seller!
    And thanks for introducing me to a new word, aspertame….one that can be used in place of some others and not frowned upon. I also agree with you about quinoa?.
    You are the best. God bless you!

  21. Connie Havard Ryland - July 9, 2019 12:25 pm

    I guess I’m going to age like God intended me too. I’m going to cook with real butter. Make pasta sauce with heavy cream. Use real sugar, because anything else leaves a taste in your mouth that is not pleasant. I’m going to eat rice and potatoes and not quinoa. I do all those things in moderation but it’s the real stuff not an imitation. Sorry you got an ugly email this morning. Some people just need to chill out. Love and hugs.

  22. Karen - July 9, 2019 12:35 pm

    I use stevia in my coffee, and I am used to it now. We made home made strawberry ice cream on Memorial Day, with real cream and sugar.
    I don’t know why people feel the need to write unkind things to you. Your writing lifts me up, makes me laugh, makes me cry, and reminds me of all the goodness in life. Thank you.

  23. Deborah J Griffith - July 9, 2019 12:46 pm

    I just love you!

  24. Marilyn - July 9, 2019 12:50 pm

    Oh,the memories of homemade ice cream! When I was a kid on the farm, on occasion my mother would whip up the makings and my father would do the work to produce that treat on a hot, summer day! There was/is nothing quite so satisfying as a bowl of that vanilla ice cream covered in homemade chocolate syrup! How I would love to have my parents here and enjoy that treat once again. There is nothing that compares to the real thing.

  25. Naomi - July 9, 2019 12:50 pm

    Sean, my husband and I were just talking about this. He is 88 years old and is in excellent health. His family were farmers (actually sharecroppers). His grandfather died when he was 96; one of his aunts died when she was 100 and his other aunt died just short of 101. They never ate what you would call a healthy diet. They had home-made biscuits made with lard, along with sausage every day. They had cornbread and buttermilk. His aunts and his mother had to churn milk to get “real” butter; we still have the churn. But it’s my Orthodox Jewish uncle that I want to tell you about. He never ate a vegetable in his life, except canned green peas and canned corn. However, he ate ice cream and popcorn every day. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was 92 years old, his doctor called for him to have home hospice. The hospice worker wrote out a diet for him to get on. He told her, “I am 92 years old. What makes you think that I’m going to eat this ‘rabbit’ food now”. So, since there was nothing they could do for him anyway, he kept eating his ice cream and popcorn every day. If you live to be 80 or 90 years old, my philosophy is eat whatever you want. We eat our big meal at noon and I eat chocolate and peanuts for dinner.

    • JB - July 9, 2019 1:07 pm

      My husband’s grandmother was 94 when she finally could no longer care for herself and went into care. They called me once and said, “We can’t get her to eat anything but cheetos and pepsi”. I told them, “At 95, she’s earned cheetos and pepsi. Leave her be.”

  26. JB - July 9, 2019 1:05 pm

    My husband makes homemade ice cream for the grandkids and its one of our favorite summertime activities. The kids watch fascinated as a few loose ingredients turn into the stuff of dreams. Thanks, Sean. (And sorry about the tonsils.)

  27. Kathleen - July 9, 2019 1:29 pm

    Sean, oh my, this brought back memories of the promise I received of all the ice cream I could eat before I had my tonsils removed in 1955. I remember the ride on the stretcher to the operating room watching the ceiling lights slide past and then the black rubber mask covering my face. But I don’t remember any sweet smell…….maybe I was too scared to notice or maybe they hadn’t added fragrance to ether in 1955. I also remember waking up next to a window in a twilight dark room that was crowded with beds, being surprised I was in a CRIB and thinking I would never be able to swallow anything again. Happily, I’ve had many delicious bowls of ice cream since then and it’s still one of my favorite treats.

    Sorry people feel the need to berate you when you’re only trying to bring joy, peace, love and humor to this tired world of ours. Forget the one that is nasty and remember only the good ones.

    Thank you for sharing the details of your life!

  28. Jean - July 9, 2019 1:38 pm

    I love each and every one of these lovely replies.

  29. Cindy - July 9, 2019 1:56 pm

    Blue Mountain Beach Creamery on 30A has the best homemade ice cream and the long lines to prove it! Betting you’ve been there!

  30. Jack Darnell - July 9, 2019 2:11 pm

    God Bless the wives who try to keep us healthy. We also graduated to Stevia. But I thought it grew in little packs that you tore the top off’n and spread it on your cereal. BUT, but that homemade ice cream! churning it whilst your sister sat on a towel over the ice was some kind of good when mama said, “let me check that.” Turned the handle and said, “It’s done!” Yep it was good, sugar and all. (I even liked the salted ice!)
    Sherry and jack in Pennsylvania

  31. Susan McCall - July 9, 2019 2:18 pm

    I love looking at life through your eyes! There is so much that’s wonderful about the south, and you say it so well. Thank you!

  32. George B - July 9, 2019 2:46 pm

    Sending hate filled emails is something I don’t understand, how can someone be that sad and lost. Why would that person think they can have any affect or impact anyone in any way with negativity. It’s great how you worked that into the end of your column and just so subtlety let that person know they failed in their purpose, doing so in such a positive way.

  33. Ken Dunn - July 9, 2019 2:49 pm

    Oh what memories ! I had recently been eating Blue Bell Licked but recently tried Dannon’s Oikos Greek Yogurt Crunch- not too bad. Then a friend of mine from Clanton, Al., told me he was having churned homemade ice cream with fresh Chilton County peaches- ruined my day. Then it brought back memories of when I was a kid and I would sit on a feed sack holding down a hand cranked churn while the adults turned the crank- always had 2 churns, one with vanilla and one with fresh peaches. Then electric churns came out and that’s when mankind went to pieces and has never recovered. American will never be the same until we go back to hand churned homemade ice cream ! Had an uncle who lived to 99 and ate a quart of ice cream and a half jar of peanut butter every night of his life- I guess that’s what finally killed him at 99.

  34. charliestsimons - July 9, 2019 2:50 pm

    And hot dogs! More hot dogs and real ice cream and I think we’ll be ok. Oh, and acoustic music. That’ll help too.

  35. Nena - July 9, 2019 2:54 pm

    Sean, I just won the 4th of July Homemade Ice Cream Contest, in Monteagle. I used my 99 year old Dad’s recipe. As kids we sat on the the cabin porch taking turns on the hand crank until our arms fell off. Dad would finish it off with his Hulk strength cranking. If you get back to Franklin or Monteagle, I will make you a batch. Not an aspartame or stevia in sight!

  36. Shelton A. - July 9, 2019 3:21 pm

    I still eat ice cream and my dog is a rescue. Life is good.

  37. Jess - July 9, 2019 3:24 pm

    Sean, I might have been persuaded to get my tonsils removed when I was a kid because I was having so much trouble with them, but a classmate said his brother died after having his tonsils removed. Need I say more! And many decades later I still have those rascals right where they’re suppose to be.

  38. Linda Moon - July 9, 2019 3:35 pm

    SteviA is sweet and so was my second-born baby: SteviE. The hateful emailer needs to be sweetened up. Homemade ice cream is definitely the best of all ice creams, and homemade second-born babies are fabulous and wonderful, too. The world needs less hate and more SteviEs and Seans!

  39. H J Patterson - July 9, 2019 3:46 pm

    My dad loved and made peach ice cream every summer and for years our neighbor would hear the motor turning and holler up “hey neighbor, you making ice cream”? My dad would always say “yes sir”. Our neighbor would say “what kind”? My dad would say “peach and we’ll bring you some” and the neighbor would always say “look forward to it”. One time though the neighbor asked the usual questions and my dad replied “yes” and his reply to “what kind” was “onion”. There was no reply from the neighbor but he and his wife enjoyed some peach ice cream made from Chilton County peaches.

  40. Arelene Mack - July 9, 2019 4:44 pm

    Ice cream makes the day worth living. Since 4 July 2019, we’ve made homemade vanilla (my husband), strawberry with lots and lots of FRESH strawberries (my granddaughter) and death-by-chocolate (my cousin). And we loved every bite, and we all get along better with fresh ice cream.

  41. Terry Barnett - July 9, 2019 4:56 pm

    Amen Sean. I think the dude who wrote you the evil comment had aspartame in his coffee and probably two cups of it.

  42. ann hays - July 9, 2019 7:13 pm

    Nothing better than my dad’s homemade ice cream!!!!!YUM!!!!!!!

  43. MermaidGrammy - July 9, 2019 9:41 pm

    And you need to adopt at least one little child to continue your legacy. Get with it!

  44. Debbie Phillips Hughett - July 9, 2019 10:30 pm

    You scream

    I scream

    We all scream for ice cream

    Loved this one!!!

  45. Janet Mary Lee - July 10, 2019 12:09 am

    Old fashioned custard ice cream. The world needs that! ( And so does your emailer!!) I am thinking of both while picturing you with grade A eggs hatching atop your seat!! Who says it is not a great day!!!

    • Janet Mary Lee - July 10, 2019 12:13 am

      I forgot..I also spent a minute figuring the 19th letter of the alphabet!! That’s why this ole lady loves you!!!!

      • Susan Kennedy - July 10, 2019 12:54 am

        Me too!! ?

  46. Susan Kennedy - July 10, 2019 12:53 am

    Moosetracks!!! Yep, it cures everything! And I got your book in the mail today!! So happy!!

  47. Kathy Coxwell - July 10, 2019 3:14 am

    I agree 100%! I don’t use Stevia for cooking, but it’s good sprinkled on blackberries, blueberries, etc. Doesn’t take much!
    Kathy Coxwell

  48. Estelle - July 10, 2019 6:09 am

    I was eating potato chips while sitting in bed when I stated reading this column and I started to laugh and almost chocked to death. My children and I made ice cream lots of times, vanilla and peach. We had two peach trees in the back yard. I miss front porches. Ours wrapped half way around the house. People would stop and say hello and talk about what was going on in town. In a small town with maybe 500 people, everybody had to know the latest news. I have to be lactose free so that doesn’t allow me to have real ice cream. But sometimes I take 3 Lactaid tablets and eat the real stuff anyway. Sometimes I pay for it in my gut but it’s still worth it. Life’s too short not to eat the good stuff first. I often eat my dessert first. I’m 77 yrs old and no one better try to tell me not to. ?

  49. Dianne Brooks - July 10, 2019 3:31 pm

    I agree totally! Growing up in the South it was my job to sit on the churn while my Daddy or brother cranked so the ice cream would be so creamy and good. Even later when my boys were growing up and it became electric, it was still that creamy good ice cream. I miss a lot of things from those days, but I’m with you, we need more front porches and homemade ice cream.
    By the way I love your posts.

  50. songwritingmasters - July 11, 2019 1:23 am

    Sean, thank you for an oasis of sanity in a desert of desserts. I am a fellow ice cream acolyte. especially homemade. I have a collection of ice cream scoops, about 115, from 1895 to the present. For 20 summers I hosted the Annual Ceremony of the Golden Scoop at our house. Made 6 to 8 flavors. Even did shirts one year. Thank you for your passion for the real thing in a world of fallen prey to counterfeits.

  51. Melissa Mikkelsen - August 8, 2019 10:35 am

    Took my girls for ice cream last night. I was sorely disappointed. Let me give you a helpful hint. If there is a big canjster of liquid nitrogen in the icecream shop they shoot into a bowl then run. I can still taste it. It tastes like the wax from those old candle bottles. After you have chewed it for 6 days. Bluck!

  52. Janie - August 8, 2019 10:42 am

    Just imagining a world where everyone in the world sits down with a friend, neighbor, loved one and has a bowl of ice cream at the same time…

  53. Debbie Shiflett - August 8, 2019 1:10 pm

    One of your best Sean! Related to the sheetrock family, that’s a REAL writer’s phrasing! Oh, and I bought Stars of Alabama and LOVED it. I walked right in the bookstore, as is promised, and asked for it loud enough to hopefully influence other shoppers. You are the BEST.

  54. Sara - August 8, 2019 3:54 pm

    One of my very favorite memories from childhood was sitting on the front porch with my dad in the summer, drinking koolaid and waiting on that ice cream maker to stop… I asked for my own for my very first mother’s day 12 years ago, and made a fresh batch last weekend for my kids. Nothing greater than sharing homemade ice cream on the porch with your kids on a summer day.

  55. Garwin Betterton - August 8, 2019 4:47 pm

    It’s amazing what people will eat and do trying to hang around longer lol life has a expiration date eat the good stuff

  56. Linda Vaughan - August 8, 2019 5:53 pm

    There are so many awesome things in this piece of writing that I am at a loss to find the words to express just how much I loved it!


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