A quest for the perfect ice cube tray

It’s hard to find good ice cube trays anymore.

Now that I’m past 50, I find myself saying things like this, things no 23-year-old would ever say. I also complain about gravity, people who don’t know how to handle a four-way stop and I nearly yelled at a kid to get off my lawn until I realized he was 40 and was there to check the meter.

But let’s not gloss over this ice cube tray thing.

I like ice. I like iced tea, iced coffee and growing up my family put ice in its milk. Weird, huh? Actually, the roots of this custom go back to the ancient Greek aristocracy who ordered ice be brought down from Mount Olympus for its milk to honor Galaktopó̱li̱s, the goddess of milkmaids. So, who’s the weird one?

Actually, I made that up. Putting ice in milk is wrong; I can admit that now.

Our freezer holds a mismatched stack of trays I’ve purchased from every place in town that sells them. They’re all garbage. I want trays that are easy to twist, but won’t break and that stack without falling into one another, spewing out water and turning my freezer foraging into an exercise in arctic archaeology. I simply want trays that freeze water into easy-to-remove cubes over, and over and over.

Sadly, this is my quest in life. Other people have had quests.

Conquistador and first governor of Puerto Rico Juan Ponce de León’s quest was to find the Fountain of Youth. English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher searched for the Northwest Passage that connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. English-landed gentleman Sir Walter Raleigh quested for El Dorado, the City of Gold.

And me? I want decent ice cube trays.

Warning: Upcoming Grumpy Old Man Rant.

Growing up, we had great trays, big metal ones with handles that loosened the cubes. OK, so invariably your hand would stick to the metal and the handle wouldn’t let loose anything but your temper, but the trays didn’t break no matter how hard they were slammed onto the counter.

Today’s trays are good for 20 to 30 slammings, tops. My counter doesn’t look so good either.

Any quest worth its questiness never involves just one person. When Odysseus faced 20 years of trials and hardships on his quest to return home to Ithaca, his son Telemachus went after him. While searching for the Holy Grail, Sir Lancelot brought his son Galahad along. And in the 1964 TV series “Johnny Quest,” well, his name was Quest and he had a dad.

Understanding my personal quest, the boy came home one day with a present for me. Walking by a neighborhood garage sale, he poked through the box marked “free” (we’re raising him right) and grabbed an ice cube tray.

It’s beautiful. Made of heavy plastic, this 14-cube tray looks to have come with the purchase of a Hotpoint refrigerator circa 1977 and it doesn’t have a scratch on it. It’s lasted 39 years and looks like it’ll last 39 more.

Odysseus gave Telemachus cunning advice. Sir Lancelot left Galahad a coupon to Denny’s. And like all great questing fathers, I too will bequeath my son a gift of great significance.

Thanks for the ice cube tray, Boy. It may be part of your inheritance.

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