I’ve long been an ice cream connoisseur.

The love affair began when I was a kid and my dad and I would have a coffee mug of ice cream just about every night after dinner. Always Blue Bell, and more often than not, our flavor of choice was Cookies ’n Cream with chocolate syrup on top.

So when Robin Crouse, director of the Fort Hood USO, asked me to judge a frozen custard sundae contest at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, I was beyond excited.

The contest involved tasting three sundaes. The chosen one would go on to represent the USO at the Freddy’s location in Killeen and $2.50 of each $4 sundae purchased will go straight back to post to support the programs the USO offers for soldiers and families.

Eating frozen custard and supporting the troops? Definitely a win-win for anyone looking for a cool treat for the family.

So on Thursday, myself, three other military spouses and Robin sat down at Freddy’s to taste each of the creations.

If you are like me — Texas-born and unsure of this frozen custard business — you have no idea what exactly it is. At first, I was worried it would taste like frozen yogurt, which I find to be a cheap imposter to ice cream, but it is not. It’s very tasty.

Custard is considered a gourmet ice cream product, said Kathy Krager, general manager for Freddy’s in Bryan who oversaw Thursday’s sundae contest. Custard is made with more egg yolk and more dairy than ice cream.

“The machine we use pushes out the ice crystals to make the custard richer, creamier and denser than ice cream,” she said.

And Kathy is right. Freddy’s custard has a melt-in-your-mouth amazingness that sets it apart from most ice cream. And it is definitely rich.

The sundaes flavors we were given were Almond Joy, hot fudge, nuts and coconut; Red, White and Blue, blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream; and All-American Apple Pie, which had apples and pie crust mixed throughout the custard. At Freddy’s, this third sundae is actually called a concrete, which means the toppings are mixed into the custard instead of sprinkled on top.

“The first one had too many nuts,” said Lauren Dore, a military spouse who judged. “The second one, you couldn’t get to the fruit.”

I had to agree with her on that last statement. Had the Red, White and Blue sundae been layered, it would have won my vote.

Instead, all the strawberries were at the very bottom and unreachable by spoon.

“I chose the apple pie, because it was easy to get to all the toppings and it was tasty,” said Shandel Jones, another military spouse and judge.

In the end, the judges panel chose 4-2 the All-American Apple Pie, which will be available at the Killeen Freddy’s for the next six weeks, starting today.

“What’s all all-American? Our troops, who give us liberties and freedom,” Crouse said. “And who doesn’t love apple pie and a sundae?”

All the funds raised will be used at Fort Hood to support programs such as Family Game Night, free lunch on weekdays, and providing support at homecoming and deployment ceremonies. The money will also help keep the USO as a place for soldiers and families to go to if they are looking to relax and unwind. The center, located in an old barracks near Chili’s, has Internet, movies, video games, books, magazines and snacks.

The best part about USO programs? Everything is free. A soldier will never be asked to pay for anything provided, so donations are vital, Crouse said.

And a sundae providing so much for others can surely be enjoyed guilt-free.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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