Nostalgia: Cone Head at Friendly’s

  • Photo by Shelley Mann
By Columbus Alive
From the February 16, 2012 edition

As a kid, my palate was, well, kinda boring. When given the chance to pick any restaurant in the city for my birthday dinner, I picked Olive Garden. Every year.

In the midst of today’s fervor for everything locally owned, independent, farm-to-plate, it’s easy for me to pity the people who line up to wait 45 minutes for a table at the Olive Garden at 5 o’clock on a Saturday. The wait only grows from there.

But I also haven’t eaten there in years, so who am I to judge? I thought it’d be fun to revisit some of my childhood favorites and see how they hold up to my fond memories. We’ll kick things off with the world’s cutest sundae, and I’ll continue the series online at ColumbusCrave.com (including a visit to, yes, Olive Garden).

Where: Friendly’s. The aging chain of old-fashioned, family-focused restaurants has only one remaining Columbus location. Their slogan is “Where ice cream makes the meal,” and that was definitely the appeal for 8-year-old me. When we would swing by Friendly’s for an after-game burger or lunch with my grandparents, it meant a guaranteed Cone Head sundae.

What: The Cone Head is, in essence, a clown-shaped ice cream creation. A vanilla ice cream “face” is topped with whipped cream hair, a hot-fudge-dipped sugar cone hat and Reese’s Pieces for eyes and a nose. This sundae is technically on the kids menu, but my server didn’t blink when I ordered it with my All-American Burger (comparable to a Wendy’s burger but with a better bun).

Verdict: The menu brags of homemade ice cream (and Friendly’s does indeed make their own), but the bland, slightly freezer-burned scoop of vanilla was the weak link in this dessert. Well, and the from-a-can whipped cream.

But when my jovial server brought out my smiling sundae, I couldn’t help but grin, too. The undeniably adorable Cone Head immediately boosted my mood. Sugar cones dipped in hot fudge are surprisingly tasty, and the Reese’s Pieces temporarily transported me to that happier, simpler time known as the ’80s.

Check out Shelley’s Daily Crave blog at ColumbusCrave.com.