BEVERLY — On Friday, the luckiest ones encountered the first sign of spring in Beverly — opening day at Original Rainbow Cone.
It’s home to the tastiest ice cream treat in the city: five flavors — chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (that’s New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet — sliced rather than scooped, and jammed into a cone.
“Rainbow Cone has been part of spring since it opened in May 1926 and every year since through the Great Depression, through wars, through everything,” manager Michelle Desnoyer said. “When we open our doors it means spring is around the corner.”
Just the other day, Desnoyer got the ice cream shop at 9233 S. Western Ave. ready for throngs of Rainbow Cone regulars who arrive — and are willing wait in lines out the door on the hottest summer days — just to get a taste.
“After a long, hard winter it was a good feeling to clean the windows, which were a disaster from all the salt and everything,” she said. “It’s already good to see familiar faces coming back.”
On a balmy 40-degree opening day, about 100 customers had scored the trademarked tasty treat created by founder the late Joseph Sapp, an Ohio-born mechanic who opened the shop with his wife, Katherine.
Now, the joint’s owned by Sapp’s granddaughter, Lynn Sapp, who turned Rainbow Cone into “Rainbow Cakes,” which have local orders for all kinds of parties, weddings — and even funerals, Desnoyer said.
“People coming from places like California, land at Midway, and this is their first stop. It’s the place their grandmother or mother took them,” she said. “Coming here is a tradition.”
Or it’s just a great way to beat the winter blues.
“I just love all the different flavors and how they all melt together in your mouth. Oh, yeah,” Rainbow Cone customer Amy Thompson said. “I can’t wait for spring and summer. Bring it on.”
Veteran Rainbow Cone assemblyman Jinks Riddle, 18, used the patented ice cream “spade” to slice each of the five flavors just right and pack one of the first cones of the season just for me.
And let me tell you, after my first taste, the lingering late-winter blues didn’t stand a chance.
Desnoyer says she’s seen the transformation happen before.
“When we open you can really tell that people are starting to perk up and feel better,” she said. “You can see it on their faces. I love seeing everybody like that. And the one thing I know is that it will happen every year. There will always be a Rainbow Cone. It will outlive us all.”
If you're going to Saturday's seasonal grand opening get there early: The first 100 people in line get a T-shirt to celebrate Original Rainbow Cone’s 88th anniversary. Doors open at noon.