CABINET: only in Rhode Island: a milkshake!

There’s a lot about Rhode Island that’s unique.  Like on Monday when the state observed “Victory Day.”   Rhode Island is the only state in the United States that continues to observe this day as “Victory over Japan” day.   The horrific details of that victory have caused a stir among many Rhode Islanders, but the state continues to close down offices, delay trash pickups, and other community services in recognition of that gruesome day when terror rained down on the people of Hiroshima.  The fact that there is a large military presence in the state seems to be main reason for continuing this archaic practice.

But on a lighter note, there is language.   The Rhode Island dialect is unique.  It’s somewhat of a cross between that of Boston and that of the Bronx.  Not an “r” to be found at the end of a word, unless of course you mean those “r”s that appear when a word ends in “a.”  Examples:  sugar becomes sugah, but idea becomes ideer.  It’s really kind of fun to listen to, unless you’re trying to order something over the speaker system at a Dunkin’ Donuts, when it almost requires a translator.

The singularly most unusual feature of Rhode Island language, however, is not the dialect.  It is the use of words that don’t make any sense.   The greatest among them is the word cabinet, which (anywhere else in the world) means a piece of furniture usually made of wood.    Not in Rhode Island, though, where a cabinet is a milkshake.   The other New England word for milkshake, frappe,  is also used.  But Rhode Islanders, and Rhode Islanders alone, have adopted the word cabinet to mean the same thing.  It is really weird to go to the counter and order a chocolate cabinet with chocolate ice cream.   There’s never a flick of the eyes, a furrow in the brow, or a moment’s hesitation.   Soon the clerk is handing you a thick, creamy milkshake made just like you ordered it.

Rhode Islanders like their ice cream.   That was one characteristic it didn’t take me long to adopt.   Our favorite is the ice cream from The Daily Scoop in Barrington, a fifteen minute drive from our home.   It is a seasonal shop which employs only high school students, and it is one of the cleanest, brightest, and friendliest places I have ever frequented.   We love their ice cream, which is reputed to have the highest butterfat content of any ice cream in the state.  I believe it.  It is rich and smooth.   Disclaimer:  these days I get their non-fat yogurt, usually black raspberry.   But occasionally I have been known to slip over into a rich chocolate just to remember how great it is.

A cabinet made with Daily Scoop ice cream is the definition of a substitute for lunch on a warm summer day.  I fantasize about having a scoop of ice cream served in a wooden box one of these days, just to make the play on words come true.


Photo Credit: Folkspeech

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