NOTE: Cole Drug is now Pamida Pharmacy, but the soda fountain / lunch counter remain the same.
We sent the staff of Cole Drug into near panic when we walked into the old drug store one fine summer day a dozen years ago and ordered a Big Timber sundae. They were accustomed to making milk shakes, malts, green rivers, and root beer floats; and they even had a short repertoire of sandwiches to serve at lunch. But the Big Timber sundae was something else: the biggest ice cream dish on the menu, the top of the line: nine scoops of ice cream (your choice of flavors), six sauces (butterscotch, chocolate, strawberry, caramel, pineapple, and marshmallow), whipped cream and nuts.
“You don’t BOTH want one, do you?” asked Laurie, the mixologist behind the counter. When we told her we intended to split one, she breathed a sigh or relief, confessing that she had only one bowl big enough to hold a Big Timber sundae. “I’ve never made one in my life!” she further confessed.
Two comrades who were having lunch in one of the four booths towards the back of the pharmacy overheard our conversation and came forward to join Laurie in the momentous creation of a Big Timber. The three of them discussed, debated, and consulted with each other regarding nuances of soda-fountain technique (Must the pineapple sauce go atop the chocolate ice cream? … Should caramel sauce cover strawberry? …) and eventually designed and constructed a monumental ice cream dessert. When it was finished, they set it before us on the counter with a spoon on either side of the bowl and stood there watching with pride as we plowed into it.
If a large trough of ice cream is not on your diet when you come to the charming little town of Big Timber, the soda fountain’s “lesser” specialties are excellent, too. Among the confectionery treats are a Crazy Mountain sundae, a Big Sky Sundae, Huckleberry sundaes and milk shakes, and a Bitter Root float. That last one is root beer and chocolate syrup with vanilla ice cream: an inspired combination.