Cold Comfort by
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Prompted By Comfort Food

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There used to be a dairy company called Sealtest. Sealtest was big in northern New Jersey when I was a kid. Sealtest is still around, but after being bought and sold a few times, it is much less prominent and harder to find unless you are in Canada. One of Sealtest’s products was “Light n’ Lively Ice Milk” (ice milk is now just called low-fat ice cream) and we loved it. There was nearly always a big tub of vanilla Light n’Lively in our freezer, no matter the season.

Summertime ambrosia.

One of the the delights of a hot summer day was to come in, scoop myself a big serving of Light n’Lively, inhale the strong scent of vanilla that wafted up from the bowl and chow down. Summertime ambrosia. I ate a lot of Light n’Lively back in the days when I had to struggle mightily to gain weight. And then….

One day, when I was in my mid-teens, I came in and went for the L n’L as usual. As I raised the bowl, I caught that sweet vanilla scent. And I gagged. For no reason I have ever known, it was suddenly disgusting.  Stomach turning. I put the bowl down and just stared. I tried again and…nope. Horrible. It might as well have been a bowl of anaerobic Newark Bay mud, replete with oil sheen and maybe a Hackensack River whitefish on top, for all the appeal it held.

Into the sink it went. I never again ate another bowl of it.

It seems that I had finally overdosed on Light n’Lively.


Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.

Tags: desserts, frozen, summer, sealtest, comfort, food
Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    I remember Sealtest as well as Light and Lively. Food aversion is a strange thing, but I hope you are not turned off to all ice cream. One of our warm weather pandemic comforts was going out to get a scoop of great ice cream to eat (socially distanced) outside.

    • Dave Ventre says:

      Oh hell no! I love vanilla, it’s scent and flavor, in ice cream and other things. That strange reaction to the ice milk has never been repeated. I think I simply reached some sort of saturation point with this product.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    We had Sealtest in Connecticut too, and it advertised a lot. But, for whatever reason, it was never a brand that we bought. I wonder if your reaction to L and L (which I also remember) was really some change in you or whether they changed the formula at some point, as often happened with “diet” foods and drinks back then.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Ice cream, light or not, is a perpetual winner in my book. Dutch chocolate almond was the favourite when I was growing up, and easy to eat in huge quantities. Good to know that when you hit the Sealtest L &L limit, you didn’t lose the ability to enjoy other versions, even though we all lose the ability to enjoy them without weight consequences.

  4. Suzy says:

    I remember Light n Lively too, which is not surprising since I also grew up in north Jersey. I certainly remember the term “ice milk” which made it sound much healthier than ice cream. But the best ice cream anywhere around was made at a place called Holsten’s in Bloomfield. They had a mocha chip that was to die for! I just looked it up to see if it still exists, and it does – and apparently was featured on The Sopranos (a show I never watched).

  5. Marian says:

    Another Jersey girl remembers Sealtest, Dave, and Light and Lively. By the time it became popular, I already had a serious dairy intolerance, so I don’t recall having much of it. And for those with dairy issues, low fat and skim milk are way worse than full-fat versions, because the fat counteracts some of the lactose and proteins. I’d rather have a half cup of good coconut milk ice cream than gobs of the other stuff.

  6. Dave, do you think it was too much of a good thing, did your tastes suddenly change, or
    can one really over-dose on a favorite food?

    In any case, despite your own sudden aversion to L n’ L., ice cream must certainly be a fairly universal comfort food!

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    I also remember Sealtest, Dave, though we didn’t have a lot of ice cream in our freezer when I was a kid (not sure why not). As others have commented, perhaps the formula changed and you could no longer stand that particular smell. It does seem strange, but who knows? For reasons that I do not understand, companies take perfectly good products and think they must refine or make them better…usually NOT improving them. Sorry Sealtest ruined that one for you.

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