It’s become a tradition at Food Safety News to take a break on major holidays by hosting a virtual potluck or picnic, held entirely online for our far-flung staff.


So we’re celebrating Independence Day 2011 by once again sharing our dishes – Mary’s farmers’ market veg dip, Cookson’s garden-fresh potato salad, Suzanne’s Aunt Sandy’s spinach and strawberry salad, Helena’s apricot-rosemary halibut, Andy’s Everyman’s Gumbo, Dan’s Fried Ice Cream Cake Sticks and Gretchen’s coconut berry lime cake.

We’re often asked if writing about foodborne illness makes us reluctant eaters. Far from it. We relish good food and all the healthy choices available. To us, food freedom means the right to spend our grocery dollars with growers and producers who see safe food-handling practices not as an inconvenience or cost, but as a responsibility to protect their customers and the public health, and therefore an essential part of doing business. Independence Day is a good day to think about freedom from fear.

Have a food-safe Fourth of July.

The Food Safety News team 


For better or worse, I grew up in or very near two Midwest towns known for famous ice cream — Schwan’s in Marshall, MN and Wells Blue Bunny in LeMars, IA.

The two towns are located in southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa, about 130 miles apart mostly over the north-south Highway 75.

That’s probably why I always think of ice cream on the Fourth of July. There’s something good to be said about both Schwan’s and Wells. Schwan’s is a route delivery system involving 6,000 vehicles that will come to you with all kinds of food in addition to ice cream.

I’ve never known exactly where Schwan’s delivers, but I’ve seen their delivery trucks all over the country. Quite an accomplishment for the late Marvin Schwan, who started it all with a 1946 Dodge panel van in 1952,  (A generation later, Schwan’s rebuilt after a nasty fire and handled an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis with some skill.) 

When it comes to ice cream, however, the edge goes to Well’s Blue Bunny, a brand born out of a contest in the Sioux City Journal in 1935 with a $25 prize.  My connection with Wells is a little deeper than Schwan’s.

My uncle Joe sold truck parts to the Wells family for years, and part of the deal was an endless supply of Wells products to my cousin’s freezer, which was only a block down the street.

To say that Wells is creative when it comes to ice cream is an understatement, and when you get into that you quickly understand why the Iowa Legislature has named LeMars as “The Ice Cream Capital of the World.”  It also should be noted that Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream is one of the “Tastes of Twins Territory” items selected for sale at the new Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.

Try this one for example:


Blue Bunny®
Duff’s Fried Ice Cream and Cake Sticks



8 (1/2 cup) scoops Blue Bunny®

Premium Ice Cream Red Carpet Red Velvet Cake™ (or any favorite Blue Bunny Premium Ice Cream flavor!)

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. sugar

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil, for frying

8 lollipop sticks

Butterscotch, chocolate or caramel sauce, optional

Whipped cream, optional


1.  Place ice cream balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and freeze for at least 2 hours.

2.  In a soup bowl or other medium-sized bowl, beat eggs and sugar with a fork until well blended.  Place panko crumbs in another soup bowl or medium-sized bowl.  Dip the ice cream balls into egg mixture, then roll in the panko bread crumbs, coating completely.  Freeze 1 hour.

3.  Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer to 375 degrees F.  Fry ice cream balls, one at a time, until golden brown; 30 seconds to 1 minute; remove from the oil and insert a lollipop stick.  Top with a drizzle of butterscotch, chocolate or caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes*

Cook Time: 30 seconds

*Freeze time extra 

If you cannot have a Happy 4th with that, add you favorite alcohol.