Squirrel Nut Zipple and the 2020 JP Music Festival
Friday, September 18, 2020
J.P. Licks & Author Janae Marks
Monday, August 31, 2020
Janae Marks wrote the book “From the Desk of Zoe Washington”, set in Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge, MA. One of the places Zoe and her friends and family visit is the J.P. Licks in Davis Square and we just had to sit down and chat with her about how she came to set some of her story at J.P. Licks!
1. How did you decide where to set Zoe’s story? Did you grow up or go to school near Davis Square?
I went to college at Tufts University, so I lived on campus down the road from Davis Square for several years. I loved walking to Davis Square to hang out, watch a movie, and grab J.P. Licks!
2. Where did your idea for Zoe’s story come from?
What inspired me to write this story was a podcast! Back in 2014, I was obsessed with the first season of Serial, which told the story of a man who is in prison for murder, but many believe could be innocent of the crime. After the season ended, I kept thinking about wrongful convictions, and wondered how often they happen. Since I write for kids, I started to wonder what it’s like to have a parent in prison, and what it would be like to find out that they might actually be innocent. Zoe Washington was born from there!
I decided to make Zoe an aspiring pastry chef because I love watching baking competition shows, like Kids’ Baking Championship on the Food Network. I thought it’d be fun to have Zoe be as passionate about baking as the kids on those shows.
3. Can you tell us a little bit more about the Innocence Project, the organization that helps Zoe?
The Innocence Project is an organization that uses DNA testing to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. They also help reform the criminal justice system. You can learn more about them on their website: innocenceproject.org/.
4. Did you have to spend a lot of time researching for the book? Did you describe Davis Square and Harvard Square from memory or did you come back and take a lot of pictures?
Yes, I spent a lot of time researching wrongful convictions, systemic racism within the criminal justice system, The Innocence Project, and baking! I actually described Davis and Harvard Square from memory, with the help of Google images.
4. Did you have a best friend growing up that lived next door to you? And did you have a fight with them one summer too?
I never had a best friend live right next door to me. The conflict between Zoe and Trevor is fictional, but I did have an experience in the sixth grade that led to me losing friends. It’s so common for friendships from elementary school to change once kids get to middle school, so I wanted to explore that theme.
5. What’s your favorite song? Do you write about it in “From the Desk of Zoe Washington”?
Growing up, I loved Mariah Carey, which is why I included “One Sweet Day” (her duet with Boyz II Men) in the book. I listened to that album, Daydream, constantly when I was Zoe’s age. Listening to it now still brings back memories of that time!
6. Do you also bake cupcakes? Or do you enjoy eating them more? What’s your favorite flavor of cupcake?
When I wrote this book, I wasn’t much of a baker, even though I love those baking competition shows. But I’ve been baking more lately! I’d still rather eat cupcakes than bake them, but it’s pretty satisfying to make them yourself. My favorite flavor is similar to Trevor’s - chocolate!
7. When you were growing up, did you want to be a baker? Or have you always wanted to be a writer? Or have you always had more than one dream and what do you say to young people who want to grow up to be more than one thing?
I never wanted to be a baker. I didn’t even know I wanted to be an author until I was in college! Growing up, I actually wanted to be a Broadway actress. I eventually realized I liked writing stories more than performing in them, so I pivoted to creative writing. I think all young people should figure out what they love, and follow their passion - wherever it takes them!
8. Zoe’s cupcake flavor invention reminds us of our Fruity Pebbles Cereal Milk ice cream. Have you ever tried it? Have you ever baked Zoe’s cupcake invention?
I’ve never had that ice cream but it sounds good! I have made Zoe’s cupcake invention, and I also posted it to my website here!
9. Was the Davis Square J.P. Licks your go-go ice cream store when you were here?
Yes! I went to the stores in Davis Square and Harvard Square all the time. Even now, whenever I visit Boston or Tufts, I always stop by to grab some.
10. What is your favorite flavor? (Is it the same as Zoe or her mom’s?)
My favorite flavors are Coconut Almond Chip (what Zoe’s mom orders in the book) and Coffee Cookies ‘n’ Cream!
11. Do you still write letters to people and send them via the mail (with stamps!!)?
I hadn’t in a long time, but now I get to send mail to readers! I try to reply to all fan mail I receive, and I also include notes when I send signed bookplates or bookmarks to readers. (If anyone wants one, they can reach out through my website!)
12. Are you writing another book now? Will ice cream or cupcakes be a big part of that book too?
I’m finishing up edits on my second middle grade novel, which will be out in September 2021. Unfortunately ice cream and cupcakes don’t play a part this time, but there is a scene featuring snickerdoodle cookies!
Thanks so much for reading From the Desk of Zoe Wasington, and interviewing me. I can’t wait to be able to visit Boston and have your ice cream again!
Scooping it Forward
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Last month we started making deliveries to firehouses in our different neighborhoods. So far, we've visited 15 around town and we have noticed a bit of a pattern. Each time we ring the bell with our big freezer bag packed with a tub of ice cream, spoons, cups, napkins, and 3 different types of toppings, the door is answered by a firefighter with a slightly guarded, concerned look on their face. "Can we help you?" And then we start to explain who we are and why we're there. "Hi, our customers supported the campaign to bring you ice cream as a thank you for all you've done and continue to do during this pandemic so we have some ice cream for you and everyone in the house."
To a person, their faces fill with huge grins (that we can sometimes see because we stay more than 6 feet from the door) or their eyes crinkle up with excitment, or they say, "really? for us?" and then they call over one of their crew mates. "Hey, check it out, ice cream!" They universally seem to turn into little kids for a moment, full of delight. It brings us so much joy to see how happy it makes them, to see that ice cream truly does make people happy, no matter how old they are. And we are so grateful to everyone who has made these interactions possible. Who have made it possible to bring this joy to these first responders in our neighborhoods.
We have a few more deliveries to do and we look forward to each and every smile.
Meet Mr. Buttons From Lifting Spirits
Friday, April 24, 2020
We love when humans bring their dogs by the store to visit us. While only service dogs can come inside, we can see your puppers outside, knowing a treat awaits them when their people come back out, or when you share photos and video on social media of your doggos enjoying their cow paw ice cream.
Last week, we had a horse of a different color visit us in our Andover store. A literal horse! Well, a miniature pony, to be exact. Lifting Spirits Miniature Therapy Horses is one of our neighbors north of the city. They currently work with 75 organizations from nursing homes to children's hospitals, libraries to veteran centers, to bring comfort, smiles, and more to people of all ages and abilities. They visit schools and run programs like "Just Say Whoa" aimed at teaching young people to stand up to bullying - to be an "upstander" instead of a "bystander" and "Read to a Mini" which helps children and adults alike learn to read.
Right now, like so many of us, they can not visit their friends like they normally do. But that doesn't mean they are willing to stop bringing smiles to people's masked faces! Plus, they still need exercise. So their trainers have started taking them on daily walks around town to visit small businesses still open for business to try and raise the spirits of essential workers. Now, just like dogs, these ponies can't come inside and they are observing social distancing rules too. But just seeing them out and about sure brought a smile to our face!
This is Mr. Buttons. He's 26" tall and thrives on attention and, we are told, loves a good sugar cone. (His sister, Peaches, loves green apples but won't say no to a cone either.) Lifting Spirit has 4 trained minis and 2 more in training. Three of these beauties are rescues themselves and have a ton of love to share. We hope to see Mr. Buttons and his four legged family again really soon!
You can find out more about Lifting Spirits here.
They are a 501c3 completely dependent on grants and donations for the care, training, and outings for therapy sessions.
See you soon, Mr. Buttons!
What's Inside That Store?
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Have you ever looked up in our Jamaica Plain store and noticed a flying elf or taken a photo with our ceramic cow? Or sat in the teacup that sits in the middle of our Mission Hill location? Where in the world does Vince FIND these things when he's creating the interiors of the stores? Once upon a time, there was an amusement park in Whitman, MA called King's Castle Land. Founded in 1946, it had a nursery rhyme theme with a drawbridge entrance, an oversized shoe, and 14 rides. But in 1994, the owners decided to retire and shut down the park. The rides were auctioned off - including the carousel which went to New Mexico and the Ferris wheel moving to Toronto. But Vince purchased the cow, the tea cup, and the flying elf during the park's auction.
Vince added the J.P. Licks t-shirt to the elf and raised him up, gave the cow a home in our JP store and named her Clementine (of course!), and originally, the tea cup lived in our first Newbury Street store. When we closed that store, the tea cup moved to our Mission Hill store and has been a customer favorite for decades. Clementine has inspired the adoption of two other cows -one outside our Dedham store and one outside our Lynnfield store. Come on by and see it all for yourself!