Mello rolls (also sometimes spelled “mello-rolls” or “mell-o-rolls,” perhaps like “jell-o") were ice cream treats, somewhat like ice cream cones. They were popular in the Bronx and in Brooklyn; many people remember them served at Jones Beach in the 1940s and 1950s.
The television show Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979) was based on comedian Gabriel Kaplan’s life, as expressed in his comedy album Holes and Mello-Rolls. One joke line on the tv show—“Up your nose with a rubber hose!”—was originally recalled by Kaplan as “"Up your hole with a mello roll!”
Back in the Bronx:
Celebrating the Experience of Growing Up and Living in the Bronx
Volume III, Issue IX, pg. 10:
Proverbs & Sayings
14. Charlotte Russe...Sponge cake in a cylindrical body of cardboard with a lot of whipped cream and as you eat it, you push it up from the bottom.
15. Mello Roll...Ice cream wrapped in a cylindrical shape that you peeled off the wrapper and pushed in a special mello roll cone.
New Yorkers share Jones Beach memories
“I have been going to Jones Beach since 1955. I remember Field 9 and when I hike around out there now, I find pieces of the old parking lot coming up through the sand. They sold Mell-Rolls at the concession there—a concession shaped like the pilot house of a ship. Mello-Rolls were a cylindrical chunt of vanilla ice cream wrapped in paper which would be unrolled and placed into a wafer cone.” —Bill Picchioni Rockville Centre
Boomer Baby Memories; Food
Mello roll and Charlotte Russe
Growing up in Brooklyn there was a candy store on practically every corner and a bakery a few blocks away. Two of my favorites were Mello Rolls and Charlotte Russes. The challenge was to get the Mello Roll onto the cone without it falling on the floor. It took a lot of practice but it was worth the effort! --- Jeannie M. South Florida (formerly Brooklyn) - 1946
6 December 1970, New York (NY) Times, pg. 229 ad:
Complete Mello-Roll Machine and Hardener
11 January 1976, New York (NY) Times, “Comedy Disks From Carlin to Kaplan to Klein” by Shaun Considine, pg. D17:
A blurb on the cover of Gabriel Kaplan’s “Holes and Mello-Rolls” claims that his hit TV show, “Welcome Back, Kotter,” was inspired by this album.
Internet Movie Database
Memorable quotes for
My Favorite Year (1982)
Sy: We’re talkin’ future generations here. We’re discussing morals.
Alice Miller: [for Herb] You’re not qualified to discuss morals, Sy.
Sy: Up your hole with a Mello Roll, Alice! You too, Herb!
Loving Women: a novel of the fifties
by Pete Hamill
New York, NY: Random House
“Up your hole with a Mell-o-roll, coppers, you ain’t takin’ me alive!“
12 February 1989, New York Times, “On Language” by William Safire, pg. SM10:
“All my age cohorts [sic—should be “all members of my age cohort"] fondly recall the fat cylinders of ice cream called Mello-Rolls,” writes Ruth B. Roufberg of Kendall Park, N.J. “They were wrapped in two overlapping strips of paper, which, when pulled from opposite directions, exposed the cylinder and neatly deposited it into the ice-cream cone.”
Funny how so many people miss Mello-Rolls. “When you licked the ice cream,” explains Patricia Maloney Bernstein of Great Neck, L.I., “the roll shape caused it to turn round in its cone, so as the ice cream melted it did not run down the outside of the cone, but rather melted within the cone, running down into the hollow in the handle.”
31 December 1989, New York Times, “Looking Back at a Disappointing Decade” by Marcia Byalick, pg. LI14:
For me the last decade had no memories as sweet as charlotte russes or mello rolls.
18 October 1992, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, section 7, pg. 6, col. 2:
“And Mello Rolls in a cup with sprinkles. Mello Rolls were sort of ice cream cones, but they weren’t scoops, they were more oval-shaped.”
(Review of the book When You’re From Brooklyn, Everything Else is Tokyo by Larry King with Marty Appel—ed.)
Daily (University of Washington Student Newspaper)
January 25, 1996
Welcome Back, Kaplan
Another show, another time
Part of the show’s living legacy is the number of catch phrases it developed. Ranging from Lawrence Jacobs’ deep-voiced “Hi, there” to Ron Palillo’s high-pitched “Oooo!”
“Most of the stuff came from my high school,” Kaplan said. “The real phrase was ‘Up your hole with a Mello roll.’ A Mello roll was a like an ice cream they sold in New York and that was a standard catch phrase on the street. If you insulted anybody, you said something like that or something about their parents. And that became part of the beginnings of the show and then we got away from that.”
“We had to change it of course for television - to ‘Up your nose with a rubber hose.’ And then one show the censor got upset about us saying that and he said, ‘You have to say, “Up your nose with a garden hose.”’
“I said, ‘Why,’ just out of curiosity, and he said, “Well, you can do a lot of damage to someone with a rubber hose.’ They had these weird censorship things. And after the next week they said we could say rubber hose again. But there’s one show where we say ‘Up your nose with a garden hose.’”
From: Mike < >
Subject: Re: Mello-Roll
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 15:05:19 -0600
The mello-roll cone was of the “waffle” variety, and not of the “sugar-cone” variety which was crunchy. The stem of the cone had a flat bottom instead of a point. On the top it had a rectangular opening about 2.5 inches by about 1.25 inches which nested the mellow-roll. The ice cream was a cylinder a bit larger than a flashlight battery, and it had a paper wrapper with a tab that ran along it lenghtwise. There was an art to placing the roll in the cone, and then pulling the paper off as the roll rotated. I remember vanilla, but am not sure if it cam in other flavors.
It was a favorite cuss to say… “Up your nose with a garden hose, and up your hole with a mello-roll!”
Food of the Eighties
Shayne Genoway - May 04, 2007
I was trying to find information about Mello-Roll ice cream with not too much luck. Try explaining the concept to your grandchildren and it becomes a task in futility, and much laughter on their part. They can’t grasp the concept of ice cream that came wrapped in something that looked like the center cardboard roll on our toilet paper, with ice cream stuffed inside. That was the only way I could think of explaining it to them. You then had to unravel the cone around the ice cream which sat inside a cone that was also round so the ice cream sat neatly into the cone. Weird, isn’t it, just trying to describe it. I remember them well because my dad had a variety store at the time, and I remember him serving them to the kids coming into the store. He would pull a part of the paper off, and fit the exposed part of the ice cream into the cone. When he figured it was in tight enough, he unrolled the rest of the paper off and handed the cone to the customer. The Mello-Roll ice cream could be handled with his hands at all times because it was protected by this paper. It was about the size of the inside cardboard roll of toilet paper, and that’s exactly what it looked like standing on end inside the cone. For it’s time it was convenient for the store keeper, he didn’t need to worry about a scoop, just reach in pull one out, and unwrap it. Simple, easy, and efficient when I think about it now. It’d sure be nice if someone came up with a picture of one from somewhere.