June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

If your child goes to sleepaway camp near Lake Como, PA, then your child should be very familiar with the two renowned kosher vendors: Como Pizza and D.J.’s ice cream. Each is an oasis in a proverbial desert of often uninspiring camp food. In other words, having real-deal pizza and ice cream gives campers, counselors and visitors a welcomed respite from the Oliver Twist-level grub sometimes served at camp. Customers at Como Pizza are usually so thankful for a taste of normality that they are quick to exclaim “Como Arigato.”

It would be fair to ask whether the allure of Como Pizza is purely or mostly situational. In other words, if you took the same Como Pizza and offered it in Manhattan throughout the year, would it taste as good as it does in the Poconos? Perhaps, but context can be critical. When you drive a few hours away from civilization and your craving for kosher fare reaches a point of urgency, you will be happy to feast on anything that comes remotely close to your usual culinary experience. It is sort of like the feeling you get when Pesach ends and you can finally chomp on some chametz. At that point, you would be happy with just about any type of pizza as long as it’s not Kosher-for-Passover.

Granted, Como Pizza is more than just sauce, cheese and crust. The pizza is prepared with the right intention and execution, creating an eating experience not unlike that enjoyed at most above-average kosher pizza shops. In fact, some might argue that Como Pizza can hold its own when compared to year-round stalwarts. Such fans reject the idea that Como Pizza is merely a seasonal sensation. That is not a crazy argument but an equally compelling argument could be made that Como Pizza’s seasonality is the secret sauce that keeps the lines long. For example, when the warden (camp director) releases the prisoners (campers) for a furlough (night activity), the prisoners devour Como pizza like those on death row savoring their final meal.

Como Pizza might be open only during certain months but it nevertheless shares some similarities with other kosher pizza parlors. For example, there is constant tension between those who have pre-ordered and those who have showed up to place their orders in person. All of the orders seem to get funneled into the same balagan bottleneck, the outcome of which often becomes a “survival of the fittest” case study. As the Beastie Boys would say, especially on camp visiting day, “you gotta fight for your right to” pizza. In the end, the thrust for crust and squeeze for cheese are well worth it because each slice is oh-so-nice.

Pizza is not the only summer-time kosher delicacy in the Poconos. Ice cream is also supremely popular and few serve it better than the Jericho Dairy Bar, fittingly located on Creamton Drive. For reasons that remain unclear, many Jewish camps in the area refer to the Jericho Dairy Bar as D.J.‘s. Could it be that the name “D.J.‘s” is an innocent dyslexic abbreviation of “Jericho Dairy”? Perhaps. But no matter what you call it, D.J.’s or Jericho Dairy, they deliver a frozen feel-good treat without ever missing a beat.

D.J.’s offers everything from hot fudge sundaes to banana splits. One of the top sellers is called the “flurry,” which essentially is a milkshake on steroids, one that can be concocted using a wide array of flavors such as marshmallow, peanut butter crunch and Nestle’s Crunch. If you’re in a rush, no worries because flurries are made in a hurry. In fact, the entire operation is run with the precision of a Swiss watch, which keeps the line moving at a healthy pace. The one thing that slows them down is when a customer cannot decide between a cone or a cup. Most would prefer a cone but then they worry that the blazing sun will too quickly reduce an ice cream cone into a “handshake,” so to speak.

So, is D.J.’s deliciousness purely situational or does it hold a candle to other ice cream shops? The truth is that D.J.’s can compete with the best of those offering chilly chow; it does not need to be relegated to a summer success. If you put a D.J.’s in every kosher community, you would wind up with a much happier (and much heavier) community.

Final thought: Is the human race finally ready for pizza-flavored ice cream? Discuss.

By Jonathan Kranz

 

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