July 4, 2011
Mello-Rolls history and a Welcome Back Kotter memory; up your nose with a rubber hose
Click on pictures to enlarge
By FRANK BARNING
Our previous blog post included a 60-year old photo of Marilyn Monsrud Frese eating a Mello-Roll at Jones Beach. Now we offer some Mello-Roll history. A Google search yielded interesting information:
The Mello-Roll cone was of the "waffle" variety and not of the "sugar-cone" variety which was crunchy. The stem of the cone had a flat bottom instead of a point. On the top it had a rectangular opening about 2.5 inches by about 1.25 inches in which nested the Mello-Roll. The ice cream was a cylinder a bit larger than a flashlight battery and it had a paper wrapper with a tab that ran along it lengthwise. There was an art to placing the roll in the cone, and then pulling the paper off as the roll rotated. It only came in vanilla, it appears, but some people remember chocolate.
They were popular in the Bronx and in Brooklyn. Many people remember them served at Jones Beach in the 1940s and 1950s. They were sometimes spelled “Mell-O-Rolls,” perhaps like “Jell-O".
The television show "Welcome Back, Kotter" (1975-1979) was based on comedian Gabriel Kaplan’s life, as expressed in his 1970s off-color comedy album "Holes and Mello-Rolls". Kaplan, born in 1945, played the role of Gabe Kotter. One joke line on the TV show — “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” — was originally "Up your hole with a Mello Roll!", according to Kaplan. That's a chilling image.
I remember a taunt used by some Levittown boys at least a dozen years before "Welcome Back, Kotter". It was "Up your hole with a Tootsie Roll." The reply was, "Up your hole with a fish hook. It doesn't rhyme but it hurts." We were so clever.
There was also this sweet exchange;
Up your hole with a Tootsie Roll,
Twice as far with a Hershey Bar,
All the way with a Milky Way.
Kaplan is now a professional poker player who spends a great deal of time in Las Vegas, home of your blogger for the past six years. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Kaplan has earned over $1.7 million in poker tournaments since he started playing seriously in 1979. In 2010 he made $145,000."
If I happen to cross his path here in Sin City, I will greet the Brooklyn-born Kaplan with "Up your hole with a Mello-Roll". Perhaps he will smile, or give me the famous Brooklyn middle-finger salute.