We all scream for ice cream, but apparently not so much when it comes to strawberry.



Reader Karin Jackoboice of Akron was distraught, she said in an email. Her favorite ice cream Smiths Premium Strawberry was missing from her grocers freezer.



What can I do? Jackoboice wrote, explaining there was something unique about that particular flavor It is refreshing and full of frozen berries.



No problem, I thought, Ill just reach out to SmithFoods Inc., the 107-year-old dairy in Orrville; the folks there are friendly and they will be happy to help me point Jackoboice to area stores where she might be able to find it.



Alas, when I spoke with Penny Baker, company marketing director, I learned that Smith stopped making the flavor late last year. Yes, strawberry ice cream had gotten the cold shoulder, frozen out for lack of sales.



When I called Jackoboice to break the news, she was flummoxed: I cant believe it. How can you not make strawberry if you make ice cream? Its the national favorite.



Indeed, the International Dairy Foods Association says Americas top five individual flavors of ice cream are vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, strawberry and chocolate chip mint.



Nevertheless, Bakers perspective is that sales of strawberry ice cream have been trending down for probably the last five or six years. She noted: If its not turning on store shelves, retailers arent going to carry it.



Its not uncommon for Smith to drop or add a flavor, she said. Vanilla Orange Cream also got the boot last year. And, tapping into the salty-sweet trend, Smith will introduce sea salt and caramel ice cream, likely around April.



Smith, which employs about 300 people at its Orrville facility, will continue to make strawberry ice cream in bulk for those selling dipped ice cream. (Its a different recipe than what was sold in stores.) They will also continue to make Neapolitan, which includes strawberry, Baker said.



Not the same thing, Jackoboice said, nor are other brands of strawberry ice cream.



Baker said she too was surprised that strawberry didnt attract more fans: You would think that strawberry would sell better but it really doesnt.



Tasty fundraiser



You can get tickets at the door for a creative food fundraiser at 5 p.m. Friday at Woodridge High School, 4440 Quick Road in Cuyahoga Falls.



The event is called The Empty Bowl, and benefits Family Promise of Summit County, which works with area congregations to provide shelter and other services to homeless families.



This is the second year for the event, for which Woodridge High School arts students make pottery bowls. Soup is prepared by other students, some of whom are studying family and consumer science.



Cost is $25 for dinner and a handmade ceramic bowl, and $10 for dinner only.



Mardi Gras Madness



The Ido Bar & Grill in Akron is doubling the number of days of its annual Mardi Gras Madness, offering eight days of Nawlins cuisine Feb. 1-9 for dinner and all day Feb. 9.



Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, that holiday for heathens whatever you want to call it is Feb. 9, but the season technically begins on Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.



Chicken and sausage gumbo, Low Country shrimp and grits, char-grilled oysters, oysters on the half shell, fried green tomatoes, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, po boys, bread pudding and more will be on the menu.



The event has been going on about a decade and has proved so popular that it only made sense to extend it, said Ido co-owner Steve Baker.



And of course, the bar will be making hurricanes the rum and fruit juice concoction that has become a Mardi Gras staple along with Cajun Bloody Marys.



The Ido is at 1537 S. Main St., Akron, north of Firestone Boulevard. Visit www.idobar.com for a complete menu. Call 330-773-1724 for hours. The restaurant is closed Sundays.



More Mardi Gras



?While were on the subject, West Side Bakery in Akron and Green is this year offering beignets, the deep-fried yeast dough fritters covered with powdered sugar that are a New Orleans specialty, Feb. 6, 8 and 9 only. They cost $1.75 each. The bakery also makes King Cakes. The Akron bakery is at 2303 W. Market St. (330-836-4101) and the Green bakery is at 1840 Town Park Blvd. (330-899-9968).



?The Polish American Citizens Club will host its annual Mardi Gras dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 6 at 472 E. Glenwood Ave., Akron. Dinner includes Polish sausage, sauerkraut and pierogis.



Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 11. To buy tickets or for information, call the club at 330-253-0496 or Tommy at 330-699-4572. The dinner raises money for the building fund.



Chef competition



This weekend, the public can watch via a video feed as chefs from around the country compete in an Iron Chef-type competition, using food from a mystery basket to create a meal at the Greater Northeast Ohio Culinary Classic at the University of Akron.



The video feed from the kitchen where the chefs will be whipping up their creations will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Crystal Room, the UA student-run bistro in Gallucci Hall, 360 Grant St., just south of Exchange Street.



Presenting the event are the Akron-Canton Area Cooks and Chefs Association and the Cleveland Chefs Association. UA hospitality management students will help host the competition.



The contest will consist of 20 chefs and cooks contending for prize money and medals. Most will participate in a Hot-Food Mystery Basket Competition, where each will be given a mystery basket containing foods that must be incorporated into their dishes.



Local chefs scheduled to compete include UA alumnus Anthony Scolaro, co-owner of 111 Bistro in Montville Township; George Niemoeller III from Elegant Ice in Broadview Heights; and Daniel Johnson from the Westfield Co. in Westfield Center.



The lead judge is William Franklin of Colorado, one of only 67 certified master chefs in the country, according to Mark S. Kent, operations manager of the Crystal Room Bistro and a member of the Akron-Canton Area Cooks and Chefs Association.



Steak and wine



Acme Fresh Market in Green is back with its Steak and Wine Dinner. This year, it will be Feb. 11.



A cooking demonstration and dinner, featuring a trio of Certified Angus Beef dishes a turf-and-surf selection, pot roast and strip roast will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Each dish will be paired with a wine. Cost is $25.



Then from 7:30 to 9 p.m., a Steak and Wine Walk-About will feature appetizers, two Certified Angus Beef dishes and dessert, each paired with a wine. Cost is $15. Tickets are available at the stores customer service counter. Acme is at 3875 Massillon Road.



Pad Thai to open



Pad Thai owners told me, and they are advertising with a big banner on their new location, that the new downtown Akron location will open at 11 a.m. Thursday.



Timothy and Joann Ly are leasing the ground floor space of the eight-story building at 12 E. Exchange St., formerly occupied by House of Hunan. Pad Thai, as its name suggests, specializes in Thai food and also offers sushi.



With its opening, downtown will have two Thai/sushi places. Cilantro opened in 2009 at 326 S. Main St., next to Canal Park, home of the RubberDucks.



The Exchange Street building was constructed in 1919-1920, an early Akron office tower. It was once the headquarters of the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad, and some area folks still call it the AC&Y Building. (I digress; I love old buildings.)



Healthy cooking



Summa Executive Chef Frank Zifer and Summa Wellness dietitian Erin Schenkenberger will demonstrate how to cook healthful dishes at a Just This demonstration at 6 p.m. Thursday at Virtues Restaurant at Summa Akron City Hospital. Cost is $15. To register, call 330-375-6130 or email justthis@summahealth.org. The hospital is at 525 E. Market St., Akron.



Reminders:



?The 19th annual Red & White on Thursday Night wine and food benefit for the Arthritis Foundation runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Quaker Station, 135 S. Broadway, in Akron, with wines from dozens of wineries and dishes prepared by local restaurants and other establishments.



Tickets are $85 (general admission) and $125 (VIP) and are available at www.akronredandwhite.com. At the door, theyre $95 and $135. The event benefits the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio.



?The free annual wedding cake show at Reeves Cake Shop in Akron runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The shop at 2770 Cory Ave. will have more than 25 flavors of cake, as well as fillings and icings for sampling. More than 40 cakes will be on display.



For more information, visit www.reevescakeshop.com or phone 330-848-1036.



?3 Point, 45 E. Market St. in downtown Akron, will host a Wines of Italy dinner at 7 p.m. Monday. The five courses will include an Italian meat and cheese antipasto platter paired with an extra dry prosecco; shrimp and scallop ceviche paired with a fiano and chardonnay blend; and braised short rib and polenta paired with a Tuscan red blend. Cost is $60. Call 330-535-6410.



?A spaghetti dinner featuring homemade meatballs will run from noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 7 at Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, 1800 Steese Road, in Green. The dinner benefits Boy Scout Troop 334, which meets at the church. Cost is $8 for adults, $6 for ages 65 and older and $5 for children ages 5 to 12. Free for children under 5.



?The Firestone High School Soupfest will be from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the high school cafeteria at 333 Rampart Ave. in Akron. The event raises money for the schools Instrumental Music Association. Local restaurants donate soup, and patrons get unlimited portions, a dessert and beverage. Cost is $8, $4.50 for children 12 or younger. Tickets are available at the door.



?Erin Chenault, co-owner of the Viva Bene Gourmet, a specialty food and wine store at 219 N. Main St. in Hudson, will give a free Italian cooking demonstration at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Hudson Library & Historical Society. Registration is required at http://hudsonlibrary.org or call 330-653-6658, ext. 1010, for information. The library is at 96 Library St.



Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com.