As former denizens of New England, Miles and I were both thoroughly indoctrinated into the church of Friendly's at a very young age.
You think I exaggerate, but I do not. Ice cream is something of a religion in New England; the abundance of dairy farms combines with the fervent embrace of a short summer season to create a frenzy for frozen, creamy goodness. The region is chock full of local, artisanal creameries. I remember, for example, my brother's deep and abiding passion for the banana split at Kimball's in Westford, Massachusetts. And there are two local ice cream places within walking distance of my aunt's condo in Bristol, Rhode Island.
All this local goodness, and Miles and I wind up at Friendly's. I know, I know.
Friendly's, for those of you who've never had the luck to visit it, is a hamburger and ice cream chain with outlets found mainly in the Northeast - but who, in the last ten years or so, have begun to sell their ice cream in grocery stores around the country.
For me, Friendly's was always, primarily, a place for dessert. My dad would take us there as a Sunday afternoon treat, or I'd go with fellow community theatre cast members after a late-night dress rehearsal or to celebrate an opening night. It was a treat, a special occasion kind of place, and it was there that my love of peanut butter sundaes was born.
Friendly's, you see, has this Reese's Pieces sundae that I remember as pretty much the best thing ever. The peanut butter sauce is a warm, salty counterpoint for the rich hot fudge (Friendly's has real fudge sauce, not syrup) and the cold vanilla ice cream. All of these things remain awesome, but I'm actually kind of over the Reese's Pieces themselves. When eaten at room temperature, they are as delicious as ever, in that peanut-butter-plus-chemical-emulsifiers kind of way. But dotted in a sundae, they are frozen, rock hard, and practically tasteless.
Not that this stopped me from enjoying my sundae to the utmost; I just ate around them. I am, after all, an expert in the field.