News & Events

The Great Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Competition - Nels vs Norman

It's that time of year when you can barely make it down the aisle of your grocery store without encountering Pumpkin Spice something... hot cocoa mix, cereal, cookies, popcorn, breakfast pastries, tea, coffee, coffee creamer, pretzels, ice cream, even air fresheners, and cough drops!

It also brings to mind the year that my maternal grandfather Nels (Papa) and my dad Norman, spent spring through fall trying to outdo each other making the best flavors of homemade ice cream. Most were your normal, average flavors - vanilla, strawberry, peach, chocolate chip, and rocky road. But then came some unique ones for the 1960's - PB & J, watermelon, coconut w/ almonds (remind you of a certain candy bar?), Good n Plenty's (my idea), and malted milk balls (my mom's favorite candy). 

Papa concocted his flavors in the kitchen of his home in Corona Del Mar, while Dad used their garage. This way neither could spy on the other, and my siblings and I became their go-fers. My Mom and Grammy would be sitting in the courtyard rolling their eyes, wondering when it would all end. Well, the end came that Thanksgiving, normally a time of year that one is not thinking of making and eating ice cream. Instead of the traditional pumpkin pie being served for dessert, they were each trying to concoct the perfect pumpkin pie spice ice cream.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner to the melodic sounds of dueling ice cream makers churning up the much anticipated frozen delight. After the dishes had been cleared away, we all sat back down to enjoy the next phase of the feast. Papa's entry was chunky, while Dad's was smooth. They both were a very unappealing light orange color, and it turned out that the chunks in Papa's entry were roasted pumpkin seeds. We each had two small clear glass ramekins so that we could taste and judge who's was the yummiest. Grammy and my Mom decided to abstain, but my two brothers and I along with the creators dug in. 

Well, needless to say, pumpkin pie spice ice cream a la Nels and Norman was NOT A HIT. In fact, they were both pretty awful. My Dad and Papa were rather devastated, while my Mom and Grammy tried so hard to hide their smiles, smirks, guffaws, and "told you so's". While all this was going on, my youngest brother Martin was quietly "stirring" his ice cream. He disappeared into Grammy's walk-in pantry and came out with a bag of Nestles Toll House morsels. He dumped a handful into his bowl of ice cream, continued to stir, then poured it into his glass of milk and announced that he had made a "pumpkin soup" milkshake. He proceeded to drink it, ending up with a pasty orange mustache, declaring that he was the winner! And thus ended the Nels and Norman ice cream competition (but it left me with such a wonderful memory)!

It would take until 2003 when Starbucks introduced their Pumpkin Spice latte for this flavor sensation to catch on. Maybe my brother shared his "recipe" with them, the world may never know! May this Thanksgiving bring you yummy food, surrounded by those you love while you make memories that will bring you happiness in the years to come!

Giving thanks for family, food, and fun,
Cindie Reilly
MLHMGT Board Member

My grandfather Nels Severin with his 4 grandchildren (from the left) Paul, Sandra, yours truly, and Martin (aka the Winner!)
Me and my dad Norman Webb

Sign Up For Our Monthly Newsletter

About Us

The Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour is a yearly, self-guided charity event held by the Mary Lou Heard Foundation, a California nonprofit organization dedicated to continuing Mary Lou's life work.

a 501(c)(3) Public Charity

9681 Flounder Drive
Huntington Beach, CA

No price will ever be put on viewing the gardens. Let your heart dictate and let those who can dig down deep. Each home will have a donation table. Cash or checks will be gratefully accepted.

Copyright 2023 Mary Lou Heard's Garden Tour ©  All Rights Reserved