Inventing the Hummer and Other Island Favorites
Tales of Island Life: August 2023
The Hummer, that favorite drink/dessert, was created at the Pink Elephant during the 1976 tarpon season. Since then, its popularity has led to several variations served at many island bars and restaurants.
David Futch remembers its invention well because he was bartending at the time. He tells the story this way. “Billy and Katie Caldwell came upstairs after dining downstairs.” For those who don’t remember the old Pink, the bar was upstairs and dining was downstairs, the reverse of what it is today. David continues, “Billy and Katie wanted a dessert drink of some kind, made with ice cream. I had Doris (Wheeler) send up a bowl of vanilla. Billy and Katie sat at the bar and the four of us (former Islander Billy Kaminsky was also behind the bar) conjured it up. Ice filled halfway in a blender, two scoops of vanilla ice cream, two ounces good rum like Anejo or Mount Gay, two ounces of Kahlua although we later changed to Tia Maria because it tasted better. Blend and pour into a vessel of your choice.” They called the drink the White Islander.
Betsy Fugate Joiner whose father built the Pink Elephant in 1949 supports David Futch’s story but adds that Will Hanley, a longtime Boca Grande visitor and resident, often told her that the drink was like one from Minnesota called the Hummer. It seems that this how the White Islander became the Hummer.
Betsy also remembers passing complimentary chocolate and blonde brownies after dinner as well as a relish tray before meals during the 1960’s when she was a bus-girl. The blonde brownies were baked by Ernestine Harrison, Margaret Fugate (Betsy’s mother) and later by Doris Wheeler based on a Joy of Cooking recipe. Betsy remembers that customers stuffed extra brownies in their pockets to enjoy later.
Another Island favorite is the Hot Crabmeat Temptation. Rick Montgomery whose parents ran the dining room at the Temptation for many years, remembers that John and Jean Montgomery met the celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme in Las Vegas. Rick continues, “They were talking about recipes, and from that conversation, my mother was inspired to create the Hot Crab Temp. It didn’t take her long to create the dish, but she never measured ingredients. I was offered $$ often to share the Hot Crab recipe but I never caved!”
Another Temptation favorite is the Gold Brick sundae. It came from New Orleans where the Montgomerys had relatives. The secret is to put the warm Gold Brick sauce over a large cold scoop of ice cream to form the hard chocolate shell.