FLASHBACK: An All-American Culinary no-no

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

Here’s one we’ve done in the past, but we feel is worth repeating.

Enjoy, first published in late June of 2009.

I’ve been wanting to do this particular no-no about 150 no-no’s ago but it always got put on that back burner. A few months ago, I was reminded and inspired by a Paris-based writer for the LA Times, and this could be one of the most controversial no-no’s I’ve ever written.

In this land of ours that celebrates another birthday next week, there are just some things that are sacred you don’t mess with:


Out of deference to the late, great Jim Croce, I would also mention Superman’s cape and the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger.

And then there’s…


According to the International Ice Cream Association in Washington D.C., the most popular ice cream flavor, by far, is vanilla with 29% preferring the white stuff. The 2nd place finisher, chocolate, isn’t even close at 8.9% followed by butter pecan (5.3%), strawberry (5.3%), and Neapolitan (4.2%).

Vanilla actually makes it way into the top ten a few times with French vanilla at #7 (3.8%), Cookies and cream at #8 (3.6%), and vanilla fudge ripple at #9 (2.6%).

Several years ago in an article ranking vanilla as #1 on the popularity chart, Euromonotor.com said, “Simple and sophisticated, on its own or with other desserts, vanilla has always topped the ice cream menu. Regardless of whether ice cream is full fat, premium or economy, the world’s favourite flavour is still vanilla. In the US, by far the world’s largest market with per capita consumption almost six and a half times the world average, nearly 30% of volume sales are vanilla. According to Euromonitor, this figure is even higher across other key markets in this US$45 billion industry. Vanilla represents 55% of volume sales in the UK while in Japan, ranked as the 10th biggest spender on ice cream globally, the figure is nearly 40%. Canada, Germany, France and Italy, all among the top 10 markets for ice cream, prefer vanilla.”

Given those numbers, you’d best take Jim Croce’s advice and not mess around with vanilla.

Now you know where this is going, right?

Oh no.

Don’t do it, Kevin.

No, please.

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin.

You can rip the president.

You can blast high taxes.

You can go after those who say and write nasty, untrue things about you.

You can tear Joel McNally into shreds on TV.

You can expose that lefty paper, the Journal Sentinel.

But no.

You’re can’t be serious.

You’re not thinking…

Oh my goodness, yes he is.


Come quick!!

You’re not going to believe this!!

He’s at it again!!!

Ethel, you drop what you’re doing and get yourself in here, you hear me!

I think Kevin Fischer is about to…

I can’t believe, oh my God, he’s about to say……


Vanilla ice cream is a culinary no-no.


Vanilla ice cream is a culinary no-no.

Smelling salts for Ethel, please.

Oh, yeh. Of course it is. In fact, this is a no-brainer and should have been culinary no-no #2!

Now this needs some clarification. I actually like vanilla ice cream. Who doesn’t?


Then why is it a culinary no-no?

Because if I walk in to any Baskin-Robbins, I would expect VANILLA to be tucked away in some far away corner labelled #32.

Vanilla is bland.

Vanilla is dull.


Vanilla, unlike the rest of America and the entire planet for that matter, for me is my very last choice. I would take licorice or limburger cheese ice cream before I would take vanilla.

Vanilla? Why bother? That’s like going to Eddie Martini’s and ordering a pork chop.

What all-American family is in their car some summer night where dad goes, “Hey, Kopp’s is just up ahead. How about we stop and get everyone a vanilla cone?”

I recall my dad in the same situation behind the wheel. He never wanted to come inside any ice cream shop, and his simple instructions to mom were to make sure she got him something with nuts in it. If it wasn’t five shades of brown, dad wasn’t happy. Like father, like son.

Do you take the missus out for your anniversary to a Bartolotta’s and order vanilla for dessert?

Yes, I know vanilla sells. But in my book, walking into Kopp’s when it has tiramisu, macadamia nut, decadent quadruple fudge chocolate supreme, Mom’s State Fair award winning super duper apple pie crumble, or brandied egg nog and then telling the pimply-faced 16-year old that you want vanilla is tantamount to a felony.

I firmly believe that anyone who pulls into Leon’s at 27th and Oklahoma on a night when they offer butter pecan (not to mention a tin roof sundae…enough nuts for you, dad?) and orders vanilla should be arrested by one of Ed Flynn’s finest.

Vanilla is at its ultimate best when it’s dressed up, jazzed up with fruits or syrups or sauces. The right combinations can make the intensely uninteresting vanilla orgasmic.

Vanilla needs help. It’s like Ringo without the other three, like steak without a potato, like a pin-up girl without a bikini. Well, you get the picture.

Vanilla without rum and fruit and shredded coconut and caramel syrup ain’t Bananas Foster.

Vanilla without chocolate and strawberry ain’t Neapolitan.

Vanilla without anything is vanilla. It’s liberal talk radio.



Uhh, that would be Mr. Fischer.



No, that’s a great honest to goodness American tradition. But boys and girls, ask your mom and dad real nice to take along Hershey’s chocolate syrup and some Reddi-whip to the parade. You’ll thank Mr. Fisher….uhhhh, that’s Mr. Fischer, later.

Vanilla ice cream is sorta, maybe, kinda, barely OK. Doctor it up about 39 ways…now you’re talkin’!


Check out this photo from my community. Now, here’s a dastardly no-no. From 2020: Opinion: Illegal lemonade stands in your neighborhood? Your local government is on it!

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #701

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