You can smell the cattle ranches as you drive through California’s heartland. Travelers may roll up the window and make jokes, but locals enjoy a wealth of fresh dairy products. One place to bathe in the abundance of fresh cream flowing through the valley is at the Superior Dairy Product Company, just a short detour from the 99 highway, and worth the miles.
Superior Dairy has been in Downtown Hanford for almost 90 years, serving ice cream that tastes archaic by today’s elevated standards. For instance, vanilla is not vanilla-bean vanilla. It is fluffy, snow-white ice cream with less natural flavor than a Twinkie. It is sold in obsolete quart-sized paper cubes or in glass dishes at the soda fountain. We recommend eating it here for the old time experience and for gargantuan servings. You can get picture-perfect sundaes or banana splits, piled high with whipped cream and day-glo cherries.
The biggest and best thing at Superior Dairy is the S.O.S. This baffling creation is advertised as seven scoops. That sounds extreme enough. But at Superior Dairy Products, each “scoop” is at least eight ordinary-size scoops of ice cream. In fact, the S.O.S. is mostly sherbet. That’s a good thing, because sherbet at Superior Dairy is significantly better than ice cream. Citrus sherbet is subtle and refreshing, not too tangy or fruity. It is almost like a palate cleanser, but instead of being served in tiny saucers, it’s mega-stacked. Also on the S.O.S, is the curious strawberry freeze, which is a jam-like sorbet with whole pieces of strawberry — something like very sweet Italian sorbetto. The genius of the S.O.S is the layering of vanilla ice cream and sherbets. The top layer is vanilla followed by orange sherbet, giving spooners the opportunity to create a creamsicle bite. The orange and lemon sherbets sandwich the strawberry freeze layering strawberry lemonade, and strawberry orangeade bites. The bottom of the sundae becomes a classic hot fudge sundae. Being a sundae, it is topped with a mountain of whipped cream, marshmallow Fluff, chopped walnuts, a couple of cherries and a cocktail umbrella. The bottom layer holds hot fudge, strawberry sauce, and halved bananas.
Sensible people would order an S.O.S. only if they had at least twenty-five friends to share it with, but all you need to experience one is twenty dollars and reckless abandon.