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Brains On Ice

Frozen slushy stuff is a summer tradition


It's summertime in the Carolinas which means that the "Hot Now' sign is lit. I don't mind the heat myself, so long as there's a swimming pool nearby and I've got some air conditioning to duck into from time to time, but then I'm a summertime kind of guy. A lot of people I know will do almost anything to beat the summertime heat. I got to thinking about what the best way to do that during a Carolina summer might be.If you take it to the extreme, cryogenics would seem to be the answer. Cryogenics is sort of the bastard lovechild of Clarence Birdseye and the Grim Reaper. It's the process where a dead body is flash-frozen, like cream-style corn, in the hopes that it can one day be re-animated. For some people, hope is apparently not only that thing with feathers, but also that thing with freezer burn.

There are some significant downsides to this approach to staying cool. First off, you need to be dead. If you're dead, the heat is probably the least of your problems. There is also the cost. You can expect to pay about $100,000 for a full body cryogenic preservation plus about $200 per year in maintenance fees. I'm sure you could find a second-hand personal space suit with a kickass mobile air conditioner for that. Of course, the cryogenic fees can be paid by taking out a life insurance policy. You can't do that with the space suit. But then you've got to pay the monthly policy premiums, plus that death thing remains a sticking point.

A good compromise is to bypass the full body freeze-over and just go for a brain freeze.

The definitive source for brain freeze is of course 7-Eleven, home of the Slurpee and model for the Kwik E Mart Squishee. (You might remember the fifth season Simpsons episode where Bart finds a $20 bill and blows it on a Squishee made of pure syrup. After a wild night on the town with Millhouse, he wakes up to find that he joined a Junior Campers troop with Ned Flanders as his leader). Unfortunately for us, the closest 7-Eleven is 134 miles away in Radford, Virginia. Fortunately, we have some local alternatives.

Icee (Carowinds and other locations) -- In the late 1950s Omar Knedlik owned a Dairy Queen in Coffeyville, Kansas which didn't have a soda fountain. He took bottles of soda and put them in a freezer until the soda in the bottles became frozen. When these frozen sodas became a popular item, he decided to build a machine to make this frozen drink in bulk and thus the Icee was born.

Pros: Finish a Blue Raspberry Icee and you can profess that nobody satisfies Smurfette like you do. Who's your Poppa?

Cons: The syrup ratio doesn't seem quite as high as on a Slurpee but you still get a decent sugar buzz. Though at least 15 different Icee flavors exist, a limited number are available at most locations.

Price: A large at Carowinds (including tax) runs $3.01.

Fun Facts To Know and Tell: People who suffer from migraine headaches are particularly susceptible to brain freeze because their blood vessels tend to dilate more easily. While 30 percent of the general population gets brain freeze, 90 percent of migraine sufferers do.

Planet Smoothie -- Ordinarily, I'm very reluctant to go with a "healthy" version of a junk food, but Smoothies really aren't bad. Granted, you won't get the same sort of sugar rush (and thus won't be joining the Junior Campers on a whim), but they're pretty satisfying. And anybody who sells a drink called a Chocolate Elvis (which contains chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas) can't be all bad.

Pros: Full of flavor and filling as a lunch alternative.

Cons: Planet Smoothie World HQ is in Buckhead, Atlanta, which makes it a Yuppie Slurpee. Herbal additives are generally mixed in with your Smoothie.

Price: Most 22-ounce Smoothies are under $5.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Think I'm kidding about this being a Yuppie product? From their website: "Planet Smoothie is about. . .a lifestyle that's healthy and hip. Smoothies offer a healthy, delicious alternative to the fast-food guilt trip. From the time customers first walk into Planet Smoothie, they experience upbeat music, vibrant color, movement, energy and a friendly staff."

Frozen Margarita (Cabo Fish Taco, 3201 N. Davidson St) -- This is what I'm talking about! Frozen Margaritas offer my favorite source of brain freeze. And while you're at Cabo, be sure to try the Fish Tacos, a staple food in the Southwest. They're terrific. Get a side of Mexi-slaw and mix in some hot sauce.

Pros: Mixed fresh in the blender each time.

Cons: Measured the tequila. Sure it's the right thing to do, but it looks tacky.

Price: Depending on the type you get, Margarita prices range from $3.75 to $7. The original is $5 and uses Cuervo Especial.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: You can take either the #3 or #23 bus to Cabo Fish Taco Baja Seagrill in NoDa. There is no direct mass transit route from Charlotte to the 7-Eleven in Radford, Virginia.

You can e-mail Gene Lazo at

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