July 4, 2011

Mello-Rolls history and a Welcome Back Kotter memory; up your nose with a rubber hose

Click on pictures to enlarge


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.


Marilyn Monsrud Frese said...

I learn so much from your blogs Frank! I've always loved Gabe Kaplan...thanks for filling us in. I don't remember EVER using or hearing any 'up you hole ' taunts... and glad I don't. I think I must have been kind of faggy back then. Our Tri-Delt sorority was pretty much all nice girls... no bad language etc. Although we all did smoke at the meetings...and our boyfriends would smell our breath afterwards to see if we smoked. I guess it was OK for them to do, but didn't want their girlfriends doing it. Thanks for another great posting.

Anonymous said...

From Epstein's mother...

Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Epstein on '70s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter, died Thursday (Jan. 26, 2012), the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. Hegyes, who died of an apparent heart attack after suffering chest pains at his Metuchen, New Jersey home, was 60.

Anonymous said...

Mello-rolls absolutely came in chocolate. I used to get them when I visited my grandparents in Brooklyn, and I didn't eat vanilla ice cream. Our neighborhood in Brooklyn didn't have them. Late 50's, early 60's.

Anonymous said...

I first heard "up your hole with a mello-roll" in Richard Benjamin's wonderful but underrated film My Favorite Year.

Anonymous said...

I used to get them at Jones Beach on Long Island in the 60s. Here's a link with many, many comments of people reminiscing about Mell-O-Rolls


Margo said...

Please tell me where we can get a Mellow-Roll. Are there any still around? I remember them so very well. Mr. Lachman was positively able to get the wrapping off without touching or damaging the ice cream. We had them in Ridgewood Brooklyn in Chocolate and in Vanilla. It is time for them to come back.

Charles Giardino said...

When I was a kid in the eary 50s in Queens. NYC we would go to Bayville beach on the N. Shore of LI and they had mello rolls. I always had to have 2 before we went home.