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Single Mom. Georgia Heat. Icebox Cake

How a single mom of twins made things right.

By James SchaefferPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Icebox Cake - Simple. Light. Fun.

Growing up with a single mom in Marietta, GA was tough. My twin brother and I would see our dad every other weekend and then spend two weeks in the summer with him. Unfortunately, mom was bitter and this caused her to lash out at us, berating him and whoever he was with. After a while, we would just stop saying anything about our time with him but this made the atmosphere at home so dark and depressing. This summer was hot and we had just returned from our two weeks with Dad in Florida and our air conditioning was not keeping up with the sweaty Georgia heat. We were not looking forward to the onslaught of mom’s ranting about dad when mom came out of the kitchen with a smile on her face. “I made your favorite,” she said. “Favorite what?” was all I could think. She went back into the kitchen and brought out a plate my grandmother handed down to her and perched on top was a big mound of Icebox cake. “Your grandmother used to make this for us in the summers – they call it Icebox cake because we would put it in the icebox to keep cold back before refrigerators,” she said proudly. She sliced off two large pieces for us both – careful to cut across the cake so the result was a zebra stripe effect that made it look even better. “Some people just keep it in the fridge,” she continued, “…but I like it better in the freezer. Plus, it lasts longer!” It didn’t last longer with us. Next thing I know we are going back for seconds, and mom had the sense to put it back before we could devour it. Simple. Cold. Refreshing. Fun. I forgot about how hot it was, and mom focused on putting a smile on our faces instead of interrogating us. What a wonderful, simple treat that was.

Although Nabisco has discontinued making the Famous Chocolate Cookies, several substitutes are available. Yes, you can make a batch of cookies from scratch but remember, we want simple.

Some alternatives: Oreo Thins, Tate’s Chocolate Cookies, or Dewey’s Brownie Crisps.


3 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9-ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies (or substitute)

1 pinch of salt (optional)


Pour the heavy cream in the bowl and using mixers or beaters, beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Then add sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until medium stiff peaks form (don’t overwhip)

Now, time to create the “logs.”

Best way to think about it is make a tower of cookies and whipped cream alternating layers as you go up. Think of it like the cookies are bricks and the whipped cream is mortar/glue to hold them together. Then, lay the tower on its side. Mom would make three rows and then cover the entire thing with whipped cream.

Pop in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours and it is ready to serve.

Pro Tips: 1. Freeze it: It can last up to a week in the freezer (but it rarely does) and I like the taste better with frozen whipped cream instead of soft.

2. When whipping cream, stop earlier than you think – going 10 seconds too long and it goes from smooth to curdled quickly. A good way to do this is to whip it at the end by hand.

3. Garnish with some color if you’d like, maraschino cherries, mint, berries, shaved chocolate curls, broken cookies, anything to give it a flourish.

4. Cut on a 45-degree angle to get the Zebra Striped effect.

5. The pinch of salt gives it a depth that you can’t put your finger on. It is usually missing in most recipes.

6. Great, simple dessert to bring to parties because you can freeze it and by the time you get there it is ready.

When you make this, think “Cool, Refreshing, Creamy, Soft, Light” with a kick of chocolate and a hint of vanilla. We made it year-round so it goes with any season. Close your eyes and remember as a kid (or last week) eating the whipped cream straight out of the can – you can never mistake that noise or the look your mom gave you when you did. Maybe the taste covered a little bit of her bitterness or the smiles on our faces helped her with her own pain. I hope it helps you with yours. Cheers!


About the Creator

James Schaeffer

”What haven’t you done?” was the question from my friend. My stories come from humble beginnings as the twin son of a single mom in Georgia to an airline pilot flying the world. My stories, hopefully, reflect the fact that we are all alike.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (12)

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  • Caroline Janeabout a month ago

    Lovely and that picture 🤩 Congratulations!

  • Sounds really yummy! 💙Anneliese

  • cwinplus2 months ago

    cảm ơn

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Yum. Sounds delicious. Love the association you have with it too. Congrats on TS!

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    This is a great recipe with a wonderful backstory! Well done, and congratulations!

  • Veronica Coldiron2 months ago

    What a sentimental way to look at such an awesome recipe! I'm definitely trying this! I love the way this began with such a good memory as a release from some not so good ones. I am not surprised this got Top Story. Congratulations!

  • Naveed2 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story, well deserved

  • Kageno Hoshino2 months ago

    Time to make cake!!

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Sounds great. Congrats on the TS.

  • Melissa Ingoldsby2 months ago

    I love your heartwarming story that is so beautiful and sweetly touching

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Wow what a wonderful heartwarming story! So perfect!

  • Alisa İnnokate2 months ago

    This heartwarming story beautifully captures the transformative power of a simple, nostalgic treat – the Icebox cake. It shows how the little things, like a delicious dessert and a thoughtful gesture, can brighten even the darkest moments in life. It reminds us of the power of family and shared memories. Cheers to the sweet taste of love and togetherness that transcends bitterness and pain.

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