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By Lucas Thomae and Thomas Gessner
If one is to believe that college campuses are analogous to organisms, bodies made up of cells and organs that work together to create a living creature, then Yum-Yums would not be the heart of UNCG, but it would be the mitochondria, or as every internet age kid calls is, the powerhouse of the cell. Yum-Yums is this “powerhouse” because it provides sustenance that motivates and drives the people of Greensboro, but unlike ATP in the human body, Yum-Yums shares its wealth with all those who come, and the restaurant’s impact extends far beyond the boundaries of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Yum Yum Better Ice Cream began in 1906 through a street cart operated by Wisdom Aydelette before morphing into a brick-and-mortar store on Spring Garden street, except when the shop first opened, the name on the sign read “West End Ice Cream”, which would change to Yum Yum Better Ice Cream, or “Yum-Yums”, after the ice cream flavor by the same name took off. Decades and one location change later, Yum-Yums still provides ice cream for the masses.
Ice cream might be the spark that started the fire that is Yum-Yums, but if someone was to ask a Greensboro resident what the restaurant sold, the response would be near-unanimous: “Hot Dogs”. If that Greensboro resident liked adjectives, they would tell you: “Red Hot Dogs”, and red these dogs are. The bright red hot dogs, sometimes covered with chili, onions, coleslaw, and mustard, or served with a selection of those toppings or none at all, which might not be as tasty, but is far and away the most aesthetically engaging a hot dog can get, and if that is not enough, they taste great for a dollar eighty, tax included. The bun is familiar and unassuming, the chili, onions, and coleslaw offer a nice flavor and texture balance, giving a crunch and spice to the food, and the hotdog itself is a perfect mixture of chemicals and processed meat, a mixture that is the perfect size, not overwhelming the eater or leaving them with an empty stomach. Of course, the whole experience is assisted by a chill, old school glass bottle Cheerwine that elevates the flavor of the dog and provides a sense of comfort to a North Carolinian.
Once done with the main course, it is time to indulge in the store made ice cream, with eighteen flavors that can fit with the desires of any given day. Feeling the need for some richness and deep flavor? Chocolate almond fills that role perfectly. Need something light and reflective of the summertime? Peach will more than suffice. Not only is the ice cream delicious and creamy, the servings are huge, with the scoops of ice cream doubling the size of the cone itself. In addition to ice cream, Yum-Yums offers Little Debbie snack cakes which really are not comparable to the ice cream, but there is a sense of security and homeliness in seeing a Little Debbie chocolate cupcake next to a small bag of bugles at a cash only restaurant off of Spring Garden Street.
To call Yum-Yums a college food joint would be a disservice to what the establishment has accomplished in bringing different people together. Above all, Yum-Yums is a place for family; it is difficult to even go without seeing an extended family occupy one of the long, wooden picnic tables where multiple generations can enjoy a red hot dog with an odd gray interior. Most college places cannot accomplish the level of diversity that Yum-Yums has, and that is because college spots are for college kids to congregate and enjoy food at inhumane hours in varied states of being. Yum-Yums occupies a college space but the environment that the store is in brings about a level of respect and tradition that people of all ages can appreciate. Just remember, cash only. ●
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