An Ode to the Nestle Drumstick

I would like to preface this post with an explanation. As I’ve referenced previously, I am not a fan of  The Book of Delights. For a number of reasons that I won’t go into at present, the formal elements of a “delight” are difficult to reconcile with my personal literary philosophy. However, as a writing exercise, I am eager to try my hand at Ross Gay’s form, to compose a “delight” of my own and see if I can find a way to engage with this type of writing on my terms. Thus, “An Ode to the Nestle Drumstick” was born.

Last night, I ate a Nestle Drumstick that might’ve gone off. I’d like to think it wasn’t my fault; I was caught up in a rerun of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and had been eating my dessert in a rather absentminded fashion. However, as an unfortunate consequence of my inattention, it was only after I’d made it through the top layer of chocolate and peanut and begun to dig into the swell of ice cream underneath that I first caught a whiff of foul, yogurt-like funk.

Haunted by visions of sour milk curdling my insides, I immediately turned to Google—my strongest ally in the ongoing battle against my own bacterial delusions—and the results were predictably inconclusive, but I came upon a number of equally distressing pieces of information about my beloved ice cream snack. For instance, I learned that although a Drumstick does not contain any eggs (a fact which I regarded as a win at the time, clinging to the vague hope that I might at least sidestep salmonella in my eventual medical breakdown), its first ingredient is something that is ominously labeled as “dairy product solids,” which sounds more like the punchline to a childish joke about lactose intolerance than something I’d like to put in my body. Regardless of what would become of my physical state, I knew that I could at least salvage my mental well-being by closing my browser window and putting an end to my futile attempts at research.

Disgusted, demoralized, and with nowhere else to turn, I made one final maneuver in the face of certain death: I decided to call my mom. But there was one key problem. At that moment, my mom was in New York, rubbing elbows with executives at a crucial business dinner. This made me pause; surely, she would would be angry if I were to interrupt such an important event over my silly little worries about ice cream. But then, I thought, if my life truly was on the line, then wouldn’t she be even more upset if I didn’t call? What was I to do?

…She picked up on the first ring. Conjuring the most tactful, Hemingwayan, un-melodramatic language I could, I explained my plight. Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever given my mom enough credit. She chided me for calling her at such an inopportune moment, but upon recognizing my distress, she attempted to reassure me that everything was okay and I was far more likely to grow much sicker from worry than from a weirdly sour Drumstick. She sent me on my way with strict instructions to try and relax, for the love of God.

So, anxious to rid myself of my anxiety, I flopped onto my bed and determined to reflect on more positive moments. Specifically, I chose to recall my first ever Drumstick—a milestone that took place rather late in life, I’d say, when I was sheltering with a friend of mine through Hurricane Ian. Discovering the joy to be found not only in the top shell, but also in the base of the cone where the chocolate pools, it was as though life came into technicolor for the very first time. Since then, it’s been nigh impossible to complete a run to Harris Teeter without purchasing at least one box of my favorite frozen treat. Through this reflection, I realized that it would be a beautiful irony to die at the hands of the thing I love so dearly, and I was finally able to find peace with my misfortune.

And yet… there are many delights to be found in my tale—in a mother who loves her son so dearly that she would put up with (but never enable) his neurotic tendencies; in a friend who would not only open his home to someone in need, but also introduce him to a new world of dessert along the way; and in a variety of ice cream that could possess the power to make one experience the world anew. But chiefly among these delights, perhaps, is the sense that through all this love and strife, I survived through the night without a hint of food poisoning.

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