(Thanks to Susan Fonda for providing some of the information for this page.)
Big Dip has long been a favorite spot for people in North Syracuse, NY to enjoy their favorite ice cream. The earliest news report I've been able to find about Big Dip states that John J. Schairer owned the stand until he retired in 1968. Roy and Ruth Tillman then owned it until they sold it to Polly Kachmarik in January 1978. She renamed it PK's Big Dip, which it was called until she sold the property in March 1997. Polly was also the inventor of Mr. and Mrs. Nutty (see pictures below).
The infamous ice cream cone on top of the stand has gone thru some changes in the past 10 years. For decades, the ice cream was vanilla (causing a large vanilla cone to be called a "Big Dip"), as seen in the picture below from 1995.
In the early 2000s someone vandalized the cone and painted the ice cream pink. When the owners repainted it, they decided to change it from a vanilla cone into a chocolate/vanilla Twist (as seen in the picture on top of this page). This was probably in response to the popularity of the Twist, but I'd like to think this character had something to do with it:
Until it was taken down by a careless delivery truck driver in the early 1990s, there was a large pole (about the height of a telephone pole) near the edge of the road in front of Big Dip. I never know how to describe this properly, but I'll try. On top of this pole there were two sticks that were crossed that had a large orange circle on each end. These sticks would rotate in different directions whenever Big Dip was open. As a kid, this was a fantastic optical illusion. I never knew if the sticks were spinning around, independently of each other, or if the orange circles were bouncing off of each other. I was able to capture a slightly blurry picture from one of my old video tapes (from 1988) of this pole:
The pictures in the following section of the page are video captures from a video tape I made in 1995. First up is the hand-painted menu hanging between the two windows on the front of Big Dip:
The next several pictures are paintings, which are changed every few years, that are displayed on the side of the stand. In 1995 we were treated to many of our favorite frozen desserts come to life. There was Mr. and Mrs. Nutty (separated by Miss Well-Rounded for some odd reason), Mikey Mint Chocolate Chip, Chucky Chocolate, Ollie Orange Sherbert (spelled wrong on the sign), Rhonda Raspberry Sherbert, Charlie Chocolate Chip (brother of Mikey?), Sally Strawberry, Mable Maple Nut, Bubbles la Root Beer, Parfait DeCorse, Fudge Cassidy and The Sundae Kids (which is only one character - where are those kids?), Banana Boat, and the infamous Mr. Big Dip.
As of writing this (April 2007), Big Dip still had their own shirts available for $15. So, go down there soon and buy one of these before they sell out:
After buying your shirt, be sure to have a large Twist with sprinkles. You won't find a finer ice cream this side of the Erie Canal.
UPDATE: Susan Fonda was nice enough to send in the following photos of herself and other employees working at Big Dip circa 1985. The woman in the second photo is Polly Kachmarik, the aforementioned former owner of PK's Big Dip.
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