Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Brooklyn Daze: Let the Zappolla Special Shine a Light on Me

When I was a kid in Windsor Terrace, there was a candy store on 10th avenue between Prospect Avenue and 17th Street. It was a little place, with racks for comic books and newspapers, plus a wooden rack featuring boxes of candy-by-the-piece for a penny or a nickel: Bazooka bubble gum; Mary Janes; Licorice in various shapes; tiny wax soda bottles with sugary liquid; coconut-, and peanut-, and chocolate-flavored goodies and the like.

The shop was relatively small, but big enough to include a small soda fountain/luncheonette counter with stools, and a juke box. One of the wonders of the place was the “Zappolla Special.” This was a summer treat, and one of the most refreshing beverages imaginable. I never asked but I assume its origins are from the customer who requested it for the first time: 
Zappolla Special
In a large soda fountain glass add–
• 2 generous scoops of lemon ice (preferably the quality Italian kind lost in the shrouds
of memory that has actual lemon seeds in it);
• Add seltzer (from a soda fountain or siphon-seltzer bottle, must not be club soda
from a 2 liter plastic bottle)
• Stir vigorously for 10 seconds with a long-handled fountain spoon.

That’s it ! But on a hot summer day in the 1960s and I guess early 70s, it was unimaginably thirst-quenching, like the lemonade at the British club that Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia and his Arabian aide-de-camp down in seconds (over the objections of the other British officers) after returning from their desert travels following the victory at the Battle of Aqaba, where the Arab revolt, aided by the British, drove the Turks out of the Jordanian port city.

As it happens, we stopped by the delicious NYC ICY on Church Avenue last night and I had a combo pear and lemon sorbet which was delicious and I also tasted the mango basil which was out of sight, and how can you not love Uncle Louie G’s gel-ring flavor, among many others. But, the Zappolla Special, still, in its way, reigns supreme, since, as always, the depths of time boil the experience down to its essential pleasures so that everything else falls away ---flavor, aroma, texture, temperature--- and you are only left with the memory of the pleasure of your enjoyment...

And, as a kid, how could you not find infinite amusement in a place that featured a sign reading:  "Y.C.H.J.C.Y.A.Q.F.T.J.B. – 25 cents.” ?  Stepping in out of the heat, pointing to the sign, the unwitting customer would be asked to proffer his or her quarter first, at which point they were informed that “Your Curiosity Has Just Cost You A Quarter For The Juke Box.”

At that point, you would have no choice other than to sit down on one of the revolving stools, toss another quarter on the counter, and enjoy your Zappolla Special, while listening to Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” or the Beach Boys’ “Do You Wanna Dance” on your quarter. 

Ahhh, speak memory..

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