Recipe: Mr. Tastee's Blue Tornado Bars

The Adventures of Pete and Pete was a mid 90's Nickelodeon show, ostensibly about the lives of two brothers in an every-town called Wellesville, USA.  In actuality, it was a funny, sad, strange, beautiful example of lighting-in-a-bottle television that stuck with a generation of kids into adulthood.

Now, I'm well aware of my generation's habit of being overly nostalgic.  My facebook feed is often flooded with buzzfeed-style lists of all the "great" shows, toys, candy that we grew up with and now believe to be oh-so-much-better than what the kids today have.  But lets be clear:  most of that stuff was crap.  Or, if not crap, then at least pretty unremarkable.  We remember the pop culture of our youth as being of higher quality simply because it was ours. 

But I'll go to bat for Pete and Pete.  It's a show that perfectly encapsulated what was actually really remarkable about its time.  Its special brand of scrappy surrealism somehow made sense to every odd kid who grew up on the front lawns of a suburban neighborhood.  And its weirdness was never something to be addressed, it simply was. 

Pete and Pete lived in a world where an 8 year old could have a dancing girl tattoo and a personal superhero who looked like Poindexter in long johns.  It was a world where your dad could use his metal detector to find a working Cutlass Supreme buried in the sand at the beach.  School bullies had appropriately villainous names like Open Face, Pitstain and Endless Mike Hellstrom.  And, of course, two brothers could have the same name, for no apparent reason.  It was like Disney by way of David Lynch with an indie rock soundtrack. 

A few years ago I attended a Pete and Pete reunion at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles.  It was an audience full of people all within a 5 year age range of each other, who didn't just like the show for nostalgia's sake but had revisited it in adulthood and wanted to celebrate it in all of its strange beauty.  The show's "house band", Polaris, played a small set, the creators talked about how they got guest stars like Iggy Pop and Steve Buscemi on their kids show, and the cast, some now completely out of the acting game, expressed their gratitude and surprise to find the show still so beloved by the kids who had watched it so many years ago. 

Also in attendance at that reunion was the character who inspired this recipe: Mr. Tastee, the neighborhood ice cream man, who never takes off his swirly plastic ice cream head.  The mystery of who Mr. Tastee was was never answered on the show (though I've heard he was played by Toby Huss - the same actor who played Artie, and one of those character actors you probably recognize from something but you can't remember what), but he seemed to be a mystical part of summer.  He was always there on the first hot day, with a Blue Tornado Bar, his signature popsicle.

The Blue Tornado Bars on the show were a simple blue popsicle with a wavy shape, but I couldn't find a wavy popsicle mold for the life of me, so instead I made a layered bar in a way that was hopefully reminiscent of the show bar's look.

Blue Tornado Bars

2 1/2 cups lemonade

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup milk

blue gel food coloring

Put the lemonade in one bowl and the yogurt and milk in another.  Stir a drop of blue food coloring into each until you have an even color and texture.  Pour about an inch of lemonade into your popsicle molds, add the sticks and freeze, one side tipped up at an angle, for at least an hour.  Keep the lemonade and yogurt mixtures in the fridge during freezing time. 

When the first layer of lemonade is frozen, add a layer of yogurt, and freeze again.  Keep layering and freezing until you've reached the top of the popsicle mold.  When the popsicles are done, set on the counter for five minutes before removing to eat.