Today, a certain custard served in a yellow cup is synonymous with frozen dessert in St. Louis. But for generations, ice-cream nostalgia came in the form of Velvet Freeze, where generations learned about things like cherry phosphates.
At one time, the chain had enough locations that an ice-cream cone was just a short walk away for many residents. The shops were utilitarian places, with a few slide-in plastic booths, a line of chairs, and a few groceries, but the aroma was heaven, and the glass-faced cases of ice cream lured us all. When that included grown-ups, it often meant more elaborate concoctions: sundaes, malts, ice-cream sodas.
Today, there’s one location left (7355 W. Florissant, 314-381-2384). Inside, it looks far different from the days of yore. Bags of snacks cover the walls like mosaics. The shop has no chairs, little nostalgia, and a couple of posters.
On one recent Sunday afternoon, church ladies trooped in for hand-packed containers of butter pecan. One newcomer asked for a single scoop of Gold Coast chocolate in a cake cone.
“Do you really do ice-cream sodas?” the newbie asked, as the woman scraped up the ice cream.
“Of course we do,” the worker replied, with just a hint of scorn. “It says so right up there.”
“I’m sorry,” the newcomer apologized, “but so many of these places now don’t know what I’m talking about.”
“Well,” the women said, giving the cone a final pat, “you’re right about that.”