Every summer, when my cousins would visit from the city, we would make at least one trip a week into town to “Magno’s.” Magno’s was iconic for soft serve ice cream. We kids would pile into the back of the wood-paneled Pontiac; squished tighter than sardines. Most of the time it was after a day of fishing and before baths so just imagine how fun that must have been for the adults driving us! But we didn’t care! It was summertime, and life was awesome and carefree!
We devour ice cream from tall, frosted glass dishes; mason jars; and waffle cones. Nearly any container is fair game. Imagine a banana split the size of a bathtub! Don’t forget the long-handled teaspoons! They make eating ice cream even more fun!
I would get my ice cream serving in a dish because I like to savor every bite. There was no way I wanted to spoil the moment by racing, on a hot summer night, in a contest of licking all the ice cream before it melted into my hand. No siree! I wanted a stress-free indulgence!
I always had “jimmies” adorning my deliciously, creamy dairy delight, which in some other locations outside the 200-mile radius of Boston were called shots or sprinkles. Today they are mostly all called “sprinkles” or “shots” everywhere.
In my summer, ice cream indulging world, “jimmies” are chocolate and “sprinkles” are multi-color.
I’ve heard several different reasons for why chocolate sprinkles go by the name “jimmies”. As with many nicknames, the real origin is undetermined. Some say it has “Jim Crow” origins, the title character in the 1830’s minstrel song. The confectionary company “Just Born” claims they named them “jimmies” as a branding opportunity.
I find the most doubtful theory is that the name came from the English term, jim-jam, a term for something that is trivial. Not to be confused with the southern term for unsettled or anxious.
Whatever the origin, I shall still call the diminutive strands of confectionery sugar, “jimmies”, and continue to take the same, childhood delight in their liberal sprinkling.