07 September 2011

Frusen Glädjé *

* Swedish for "frozen delight"

Back in 1985-86 I was lucky enough to work at Frusen Glädjé. It was an ice cream store and deli and everything was delish! It was my 3rd job on the books (outside of babysitting, lawn mowing and paper throwing). My first job was waitressing at Pizza Hut (which is now the best BBQ place in town) followed by a short stint at as a hostess at Trujillo's de Santa Fe (this building is sadly no longer there, but I was lucky enough to attend a friend's wedding reception there back in 1997 before it was torn down). I had volunteered to help with our school's wrestling team fundraiser held at Frusen Glädjé and was recruited to work there by one of the managers during the fundraiser.

I do not remember the commercials for Frusen Glädjé ice cream and it's a shame because they looked like something I would have enjoyed...  Maybe not, because I was only 16 years old and preoccupied with my friends, cute boys and my freedom - a chocolate brown 1981 Camaro Berlinetta with T-tops. The commercials appealed "to the sybaritic buyer with a taste for the very finest."  Sybaritic - characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure: to wallow in sybaritic splendor. Well, we certainly didn't wallow in sybaritic splendor - I could barely keep my gas tank filled, but I did succumb to the pleasures of the ice cream. And I can relate to the commercials that I see (now) were aired featuring the catch phrase, "I ate all the Frusen Glädjé." Oh how I can relate!

I was a skinny senior in high school then and when I was grounded, I volunteered to work double shifts at FG just to get out of the house. Sort of a work-release program.  We had great food there, a killer stereo system and it was hardly ever busy (which explains why they went out of business). And I got to see my friends who could freely visit me at work.

Things I did to pass the time (14 hour shifts, yo!):
  • talked to my friends on the phone (remember land lines? and corded phones? and the sound of a busy tone?)
  • drank coffee sweetened with a plop of vanilla ice cream (and fell in love)
  • ate coffee ice cream (this is where it ALL started)
  • noshed on Swiss chicken salad (which I still make for my family!)
  • read the college paper (and became addicted to crossword puzzles)
  • noshed on French Onion Soup (still make this though not nearly as often as the chicken salad)
  • noshed on German Potato Salad, warmed up with a plop of sour cream (I don't make this delight because I sadly never learned that recipe)
  • noshed on many variations of deli sandwiches (Hello, roast beef with cream cheese!)
  • made (and ate) fresh waffle cones
  • made (and ate) whipped cream
  • cultivated a love for quiche and side salads with fresh ranch dressing
  • ate many of Patti's baked delights with my coffee: cream cheese brownies, cream cheese bars, rocky road bars
  • occasionally a customer would come in and want something from the deli or a frozen delight so I'd help them
I loved the smell of the coffee brewing and waffle cones cooking when I first came in to my shift. I didn't love the sticky forearms from scooping Rum Raisin ice cream...but I did love sampling the Rum Raisin ice cream (among so many others). We had those little sample spoons and I remember sampling all of the flavors we had at the time. I did not like the selection of Tofutti "ice cream" that we had (unless it was accompanied by a nice slathering of hot caramel).

I remember changing up the lyrics to popular songs (with Jon, Patti's husband) to relate to our workplace: "Raspberry Beret" was "Raspberry Sorbet" (of course). I remember Jon singing Madonna's "Live to Tell" with the lyrics "there's a bird inside of me" instead of "it will burn inside of me". (Ok, so that one didn't apply to the workplace but it was so funny.) Jon would sometimes bring in his electric guitar and play for us giggly high school girls.

I remember the long drive down Main Street after a fresh snow had fallen during my shift. I'd still smell like coffee and deliciousness after closing up the shop and on my cruise home I'd crack my window and light up a Marlboro Light to end the day - my last act as a grown up for the day. 

I remember having to come in late one night for inventory (I think). I'd been out with my best friend partying and at some point that evening we dessimated an entire bag of Oreos. I came in to work stinking of cigarettes and I recall getting some odd looks from the manager. I excused myself to the bathroom where I saw Oreo crumbs caked around my food hole. I laughed hysterically for a minute, composed myself and cleaned myself up before joining the rest of the crew. This was a nice, clean Christian establishment and I can only imagine how corrupted they must have thought I was....

Towards the end of my career there, my sister would come along with me to work and drink milkshakes (and feast on quiche with me). She'd been in a near-death car crash that crushed her skull and milkshakes were a nice way to get some extra calcium into her diet to help her skull grow back together. Plus it got her out of the house as well.

That summer after graduation was a confusing and emotionally draining time in my life and in the midst of all the battling I did with my father and trying to sort out my confused feelings about first love and of course, drinking beers with my friends, Frusen Glädjé shut down and I moved to Florida for a couple of months to escape. I never did get my last paycheck from there, but I am sure I came out ahead, cream cheese-wise anyhow...

What about you? Have any good stories about your first jobs or first loves or teenage angst?

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