I cuss, you cuss

Dustin Baker owns Bec’s Frozen Custard, where complexity of flavor puts custard a step above ice cream.

Dustin Baker owns Bec’s Frozen Custard, where complexity of flavor puts custard a step above ice cream.

Photo By David Robert

A lifelong believer in the curative powers of ice cream, I must admit that I was initially a little wary of “frozen custard.” Why mess with the time-tested ice cream formula? According to a sign at Bec’s Frozen Custard, “frozen custard is a gourmet ice cream that contains 10 percent butterfat (less than the typical premium ice cream, which is 14-16 percent) and 1.4 percent egg yolk.” So it’s ice cream with different numbers—but I don’t eat ice cream for the numbers, I eat it for the taste.

I remained skeptical until I had a bite. My first taste of frozen custard was a little sampling spoon’s worth of vanilla, and I was immediately impressed. The flavor is smooth but powerful. Apparently, the richer taste of frozen custard is due not only to the different composition but also because it’s served at a slightly higher temperature, so there’s less numbing of taste buds and a total lack of brain freezes.

Frozen custard at Bec’s is made fresh daily. They serve chocolate and vanilla every day, plus a scheduled daily special and a surprise daily special. The monthly specials calendar is available in the store or at their Web site, www.becs.us. The specials on the day we visited were lemon bars—a lemon custard with pieces of lemon bar in it—and, one of my favorites, coffee.

After much deliberation, I had a banana split with chocolate and coffee custard, hot fudge, peanut butter cups, cookie crumbs, whip cream … I’m starting to salivate just thinking about it. At Bec’s, they sell their frozen treats by weight, 46 cents per ounce plus tax, so you pay for exactly what you get. My banana split cost me about $6.

My brother, Cameron, had a mango shake, which sells for the set price of $3.39. Cameron said, “This is really good—the taste changes a lot. It goes from creamy to sweet to mango.” This is part of what distinguishes frozen custard: complexity of flavor. Whereas the appeal of ice cream is largely in the sweetness, coolness and texture, frozen custard seems to have all of those things plus an ability to deliver more carefully balanced, delicate flavors. The coffee custard in my split, for example, had a nice, robust flavor—a more intriguing taste than a lot of coffee drinks.

My friend Ali had a waffle cone (50 cents extra) with vanilla custard, loads of hot fudge, strawberry and pecans, about $4 total. The strawberries were fresh, not frozen, and the cone so good she had to share it.

After this healthy dinner, Ali and I decided to split a dessert. We had a dirt pie, which cost about $8. It was a great novelty item that I couldn’t pass up—gummy worms crawling in a mud of vanilla custard, cookie crumbs, chocolate syrup and marshmallows. It was good, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as the split because it wasn’t tailor-made for my tastes. My advice when it comes to toppings: Just order the stuff you love.

The service is friendly, the environment relaxed, and there’s a funky sculpture of an alligator holding a waiter’s tray—all making for a great place to get a great treat. Bec’s also makes frozen custard pies and sells custard by the pint. Soon, I think we will find schoolchildren chanting not "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream" but "I cuss, you cuss, we all cuss for custard!"