Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chocolate and peanut butter ice cream sandwiches

The other night I was craving an ice-cream sandwich. Not just any ice-cream sandwich, mind you, I was craving a Big Wheel. As I walked home from work, I stopped at my local 7-11 and went straight to the freezer section. There were numerous pints of the usual brands of ice cream and some popsicles but no Big Wheels. I asked the guy working where they were. He gave me a blank look. “Don’t you have Big Wheels?” I asked. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. Dejected, I left the store empty handed.

When I got home, I did some noodling around on the Internet and discovered that the Texas-based 7-11 stopped making Big Wheels about 12 years ago. Sadly, it was a quiet death, with nary an obituary or tribute to be found. And that’s a pity because they were the best store-bought ice-cream sandwich ever. What was 7-11 thinking?

Does anyone else remember Big Wheels? No, I’m not talking about the red and yellow plastic tricycle—though when I was little I had one of those, too. These Big Wheels were comprised of a thick patty of creamy ice cream in flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, chocolate chip or mint-chocolate chip, nestled between two large round and rich chocolate cookies—so huge it took two hands to hold them. They were an exclusive item at 7-11 and my friends and I would ride our bikes (no, not our Big Wheels, as we had outgrown them) there almost every day in the summer to grab one. Plus there was a period when my parents kept a steady stash in the freezer, always available for when I had a craving. Like most ice-cream sandwiches, when it was too warm they could turn into a mess as the ice cream melted and the cookies softened, but you just didn’t care if part of it dribbled down your chin because they tasted so good.

Most other commercial ice-cream cookies have never pleased me, especially those rectangular ones—the cookie is too spongy and the ice cream is usually just an insipid, joyless concoction. And while Big Wheels didn’t have a lock on the round format, their sheer size and the superiority of their chocolate cookie placed them in a class all unto themselves.

Apparently, last week was ice-cream sandwich day (does any food not have a day?) so I reckon something was in the ether prompting my desire. And since you can no longer buy Big Wheels, I figured I’d try and make them myself. I baked a batch of soft, chocolate cookies (and, embarrassingly, used parchment paper on my cookie sheet for the very first time—yes, I’m a bit slow to change, but why, why did I wait so long to embrace this amazing tool?) and chucking tradition, I decided to make peanut-butter ice cream instead of the usual flavors. After freezing the sandwiches for an hour or so, I took a bite, and oh my, I was back in time, riding my bike with my friends on a quest for a frozen treat to counter the humid Houston heat.

I’ve always enjoyed the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and frozen peanut-butter cups are one of my favorite sweet snacks. These ice-cream sandwiches took that pleasure one step further, as the soft cookies and the cool ice cream were luscious and smooth—so satisfying on a steamy day. Plus, I had added a dash of cayenne to my peanut-butter ice cream, and its piquancy played well with the chocolate and nutty flavors.

So while we no longer have Big Wheels (shame on 7-11 for discontinuing them!) these ice-cream sandwiches are an excellent replacement. Heck, it’s been so long since I’ve had a Big Wheel, I honestly can’t remember quite what they tasted like, so I dare say these are even better!

Speaking of big wheels and bikes, the lovely Ari over at Baking and Books is hosting a fund-raising raffle for Hazon’s upcoming New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. If you’re not familiar with Hazon, check them out—part of their work involves supporting local organic farms by setting up CSAs, and through their annual bike rides, they aim to foster people’s connection with the environment. Ari has over 50 cookbooks donated by publishers, so each $5 raffle ticket not only goes towards helping Hazon’s outreach, but it also puts you in the running to score a new cookbook. Sounds like a winner to me!

Chocolate and peanut-butter ice-cream sandwiches

Chocolate cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 oz. of unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa

Method:
In a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate.
Whip the soft butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add to butter and sugar mixture the beaten egg, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well.
Sift the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. Add to butter, etc. Mix well.
Stir in melted unsweetened chocolate.
Cool dough in refrigerator for half an hour or longer.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop out a tablespoon of dough for each cookie.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. (After taking sheet out of the oven, you can press down on hot cookies with a glass or spatula to flatten a bit.)
Cool on sheet.
Repeat for rest of the dough.
Makes 24 cookies.

Peanut butter ice cream
Ingredients:
3 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of natural, unsweetened peanut butter (can use chunky or smooth depending on your preference)
3/4 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:
Heat the peanut butter and sugar together on medium until the sugar dissolves, about two minutes.
Whisk together peanut butter and sugar with cream, vanilla and cayenne until smooth.
Refrigerate for an hour or until chilled.
Freeze and churn according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions.

To make the sandwiches:
Chill cookies and ice cream in freezer for about an hour.
Take out and place one scoop of ice cream between two cookies, and either eat immediately or return to the freezer (either individually wrapped or several laid flat in a plastic container). As long as they’re well wrapped, can keep in the freezer for at least a week.

Note: While I was waxing nostalgic about Big Wheels, I decided to make these a bit smaller because I don’t have quite the metabolism I did when I was young. That said, you could make the cookies as large as you like.

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67 comments:

Yaya said...

Oh wow, that sounds delicious! I live in TX, but don't remember Big Wheels. Then again we didn't have a 7-11 in my little town.

I really need to get an ice cream maker so I can make these. Thanks for the recipe!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never had ice cream sandwiches! I'm craving these right now, they look so good!

intheyearofthepig said...

really miss the big wheel too. used to ride our bikes to the spillway at Barton Springs pool and later in the day push them up the hill to the 7-11 because it was too steep to ride. my brother always got a cola slurpee but I loved the big wheel. yours do look better though.

great blog, been reading for a while now as a homesick Austinite.

yep.

Kalyn said...

Very creative solution, and they do look just delicious. Love your new photo too.

I hear you about the metabolism.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

I remember Big Wheels...frankly, anything with peanut butter and chocolate leaves a lasting impression on my mind. Fabulous take on them!

Lee Anne said...

We had Allsups, not 7-11 in my tiny Texas Panhandle hometown, so sadly I missed out on Big Wheels.

I do like anything with a dash of cayenne in it. Yum!

Yvo said...

You are so evil. I am coming over right now... work be damned. *drool* Now I have to bake in this weather *whimper* just for the cookies :( (no ice cream maker so that I can just buy)

matt said...

You just took me back to my youth!

I'm freaking out - I haven't thought about those in SO LONG!

YUM!

And your ice cream sandwiches look divine!

ann said...

woweekeflowie! those look awesome! Like giant ice cream-filled whoopee pies. I must have ice cream for lunch now, must! do you think that's a bad decision?

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

1 craving in 12 years... that could be why they went out of business!
Yours look perfectly delish~ you could have a new career here.

Brilynn said...

I'd never heard of them before, but yours looks fantastic! I so need to make an ice cream sandwich now.

Andrea said...

Reason no. 85 on "Why I Need an Ice Cream Machine."
(Everyone keeps talking me out of it saying I'll never use it or that I already have anough kitchen gadgets. But can one really have enough kitchen gadgets?)

Lydia said...

How did I miss Big Wheels at 7-11??? Never heard of them, but now I'm craving them, too!

Kitty said...

these look so ridiculously good!

Nika said...

yummy times 50! I do not remember them from when I lived in SAT but that doesnt mean a thing :-)

I think I need to make some of these only with soynut butter (allergies).

Did you get over to see my BBQ post?

have two up this week.. Not sure why, guess I am just a BBQ fool these days :-). If you are coming up to Boston way, and wanna stop 1/2 way - on thursday through sunday ... I can hook you up with some righteous BBQ.

AnnieKNodes said...

Two yummy dessert posts in a row! You're killin' me, Lisa. Can't wait to try these too.

JEP said...

An ice cream sandwich is a great way to eat an all-time favorite flavor combination! I recently posted a ques. on Serious Eats asking what a person might do if their favorite food or product would be discontinued. You came up with a great solution---make it yourself!!

Peabody said...

You can never go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter.

Sage Cat said...

Unlike Andrea, I'm afraid to buy an Ice Cream machine. I would be making Ice Cream ALL the time!!!
Although home made Big Wheels - Hmmmm ...

Homesick Texan said...

Yaya--Yes, an ice-cream maker is a great investment!

Patricia--You've never had an ice-cream sandwich? What are you waiting for--go get one!

Intheyearofthepig--It's interesting how so many have a memory of Big Wheels and bikes.

Kalyn--Thanks! Christine wanted to know what I looked like in my cowboy hat so a new photo was born!

CaffeinatedCowgirl--Another Big Wheel fan! And yes, isn't peanut butter & chocolate the best combination?

Lee Anne--I'm a big Allsups fan as well--such delicious fried foods!

Yvo--Actually, the cookies are only in the oven for 10 minutes so the heat isn't overpowering.

Matt--Thanks! So you miss Big Wheels, too, eh?

Ann--I thought they looked like Whoopee Pies as well! It's always a terrific time to eat ice-cream sandwiches--breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sandi--Ha, you do have a point!

Brilynn--I don't think they had them in Canada, but no matter--go eat a sandwich!

Andrea--Yes, everyone should have an ice-cream machine--homemade tastes so superior plus it's a snap to make.

Lydia--I don't know how you missed them, but yes, they're definitely worth craving.

Kitty--They taste ridiculously good as well!

Nika--Thanks for the hook up--I don't have any plans to head up to Boston, but perhaps a special excursion is in order. Your bbq photos have been making me drool!

AnnieKNodes--Ha! I know, supposedly I don't have a sweet tooth but it seems desserts are all I think about these days.

JEP--Oh yes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Peabody--No you can't--it's also fun to just take a spoonful of peanut butter and throw on a couple of chocolate chips. So delish!

Sage Cat--Ha! Yes, it's hard to resist making homemade ice cream. Though a jog around the block mitigates some of the caloric damage.

Olivia said...

I must admit to not shopping much at 7-11 when I lived there, but when I came back to the UK, there is a slightly similar snack called Wagon Wheels - yes with the whole Wild West imagery on the package - a sweet graham-type biscuit base topped with marshmallow and coated with milk chocolate.

Loved it as a kid. Came back to the UK, tried it, and nearly spat it out! I could feel the sugar granules between my teeth, and it was so sweet my throat hurt. Never again...

Jerry said...

I've never heard of Big Wheels and I live in Texas. And I've never seen them in 7-11s, but they sound delicious. The only sandwich cookie I've seen are the rectangular spongy ones or the Tollhouse ones. But yours look awesome! Chocolate and peanut butter are the best combo.

wendy said...

Now I'm sad that the only big wheel I ever knew was a bike. (Since I didn't move to TX until '98.) Cookies and Ice cream rock -- and these sound better by far than the Toll House ice cream sandwiches they've started selling at the movie theaters.

Mercedes said...

These are just awesome. I'm glad to know the natural pb works- a lot of recipes I've looked at say to specifically use the commercial hydrogenated stuff.

I just made a peanut ice cream using southern style boiled peanuts and the results were so good, I love the slight hint of saltiness the peanuts bring to ice cream.

Anonymous said...

I DO remember Big Wheels now that you mention them. I'm from Arkansas and they were here as well. Love your blog and try your recipes all the time!

Homesick Texan said...

Olivia--Hmmm, I'm not much of a marshmallow fan so I probably wouldn't like Wagon Wheels either, though I do like the name!

Jerry--Isn't it the best combo? Plus you feel like you're eating something slightly nutritious because of the peanut butter!

Wendy--I haven't seen the Tollhouse ice-cream sandwiches before, perhaps I'll have to give them a try.

Mercedes--Did you get that recipe from the Lee Bros. cookbook? I've never had boiled peanuts but I'm eager to try them.

Anon--Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog!

Lesley said...

Those look great! I can't say I ever had a Big Wheel that I remember anyway...but I DO love the icecream sandwhiches at Tiffany's Treats in Austin! They make them with any two of their home made cookies...de-lish!

s'kat said...

I never had a big wheel (of either variety), but those are three of my favourite things! And of course, perfect with all of this hot, yucky weather.

cat said...

man...it's been so long since i looked for one i didn't realize 7-11 didn't have them anymore (only one 7-11 in san marcos, tx). now i feel like i've been robbed! they were absolutely the best ice cream sandwich ever (excepting home made of course).

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Corpus. I remember the Big Wheel. Good times...Good times

Tommy said...

My guess is that you willl see a Big Wheel in the Smithsonian one day.
You see the occasional one at yard sales. Pack rats that haven't cleaned out the garage since 1976 or they think they can hang to Jr.s heirloom toys for some reason.

I hate to spoil your homemade angle Lisa, but those premade cookie mixes where you add an egg and oil from Betty Crocker aren't too bad at all. I have used them , added extras and passed them off as homemade. Hard to tell

Don Ray said...

I loved big wheels, but your looks better.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Good lord, woman -- these sound delicious. You felt like an ice cream sandwich, so you just whipped one up? Want to come live in our house?

Anonymous said...

These look absolutely delicious. Chocolate cookies and cayenne-spiked peanut butter ice cream. *drool* So good, in fact, I believe Tori Amos recently released a song about your frozen treats.

S to the L said...

I remember those delectible treats. Gosh, I hadn't eaten them in ages and now I guess I know why. Boooo! I want the big-wheel...oh well, thanks for the recipe. I miss Texas way up here in Seattle but your site makes the days go by easier. ;o)

Homesick Texan said...

Lesley--I've never had the ice-cream sandwiches at Tiffany's Treats, but I'll have to try them when I'm there in a couple of weeks.

S'Kat--They are indeed perfect for these dog days of summer.

Cat--I think Sandi had a point--we forgot about them and then they stopped making them. Perhaps we could start a campaign to bring Big Wheels back!

Anon--Good times indeed!

Tommy--Hmmm, I've never made cookies from a mix, perhaps I'll have to try it.

Don Ray--Thanks!

Christine--Ha! I'll come live at your house if you take me to Tallent.

Anon--She does mention she's a Southern girl in the song....perhaps you're right!

S to the L--I miss them too, but I'm glad the blog helps ease your homesickness.

Mercedes said...

To answer your question about peanut ice cream made with boiled peanuts: I did see the recipe in the Lee Bros. for ice cream with boiled peanuts and sorghum, but in this recipe the boiled peanut are actually pureed into the ice cream base. Details to come on the blog...
Oh, and you have to try boiled peanuts, I'm an addict. You can also get a Chinese style-version (surprisingly similar) in Chinatown.

Chris said...

I made your cookies and devoured my first homemade ice cream sandwich only moments ago. The result far exceeded my expectations, especially with the cookies still being warm and gooey from the oven.

I followed the recipe to a T, with only the addition of semisweet chips (because I couldn't resist.) I was somewhat unsure about the cinnamon, esp a full .5 tsp, but the flavor marriage of your cookie and my store-bought (Häagen Dazs) coffee ice cream was outstanding. I don't own an ice cream maker, so I can't try your PB ice cream, but I bet it's delicious as well!

christine said...

I've never had Big Wheels nor heard of them, though I've had my share of delicious ice cream sandwiches as a kid. But these! Omigosh, these ones of yours are making me week in the knees!

Lisa said...

Sadly, I never encountered the Big Wheel sandwich you speak of. But, oh my! Yours look out of this world. What a great idea peanut-butter ice cream is, and with those chocolate cookies? You're out of control.

rob said...

Lisa, that looks deadly! I remember eating Chipwiches as a kid, but I don't think I've seen one in years. Your version is, of course, much, much better. I think my version would probably have to include white chocolate either in the cookie or the ice cream, but it's cookies and cream, so it's all fantastic.

Julie said...

Big Wheels reinvented! And while I vaguely remember the original but never tasted one, I know your version is far superior to the original in every way.

Homesick Texan said...

Mercedes--Excellent--can't wait to see what you did. And yes, I need to try boiled peanuts--I hear they're addictive!

Chris--I'm so pleased you enjoyed the cookies--and yes, they're terrific with coffee ice cream as well!

Christine--Ha! They are indeed weak-knees inducing!

Lisa--Thanks! I love peanut butter and chocolate together so it just seemed like a natural combination.

Rob--White chocolate would send these cookies into the stratosphere! It would look pretty as well.

Vanessa said...

I'm so sorry never to have tasted a Big Wheel but I'm sure you've done them one better here. PB and Chocolate is pretty much my fav food combo. Looks GREAT!

Regan said...

I, too, was a huge fan of the Big Wheel, especially the mint one. My dad used to walk with me to the corner 7-Eleven in Virginia Beach and get me one.

Wah.

However, I recently found an Etsy seller named Robot Candy who makes coasters out of an old Big Wheel wrapper or possibly an ad. I bought one and am about to buy a second. They're very kitchy, and you always need another coaster. Or at least I do. ;)

Anonymous said...

IN Iowa Park, Tx back in 1999 - 2000 I was able to find some big wheels at one of the area American ran stores. We bought about 25
Sadly, those few stores have since sold out. Yes, all good things came to an end crushing hearts. I guess when we reach heaven God will have our Big Wheels waiting for us again.

I called Oak Farms but they were no help. I recall the chocolate stains on my clothes from that extreme specialty. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe and thoughts. I began my addiction to these treats in 1981. Here in Baytown all the stores packed them in the 1980s.

My fave was the vanilla or chocolate flavored ice cream.

Oh where have all the good times gone. I wish this historical item would make a come back....NOTHING COMPARES. I'd walk ten miles for one....

Anonymous said...

Im sure your creation is splendid, but Nothing beats a big wheel. My wife and I are dismayed after the local 7-11 clerk sent us away not knowing what a big wheel was. After searching the internet we are now even more disappointed. We must now contact some ice cream manufacture and convince them to recreate the BIG WHEEL !!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been craving for a Big Wheel for years and haved searched them out the whole entire time.... to no avail. Now that I have an answer to my Big Wheel problem I can have a proper greeving period. To everybody who has never enjoyed the treat count yourself lucky not to be enduring the pain and sorrow of this Okie.

Anonymous said...

my father has been looking for a chocolate big wheel since they stopped distributing them like 20 years ago - i'll have to use these tactics and try emulating them...

Mary said...

OH MY! I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE BIG WHEEL FOR YEARS BUT THEY ALWAYS SALE THE OLD CANDY AND ICE CREAM AT MOM AND POP STORES. WHAT I REMEMBER WAS THE VANILLA ICECREAM BETWEEN TWO GRAHAM CRACKERS WITH CHOCOLATE MEANT COVERING THE CRACKERS. OH! SO GOOD.

CB Doodle said...

Big Wheels were my favorite thing and my parents biggest tool of bribery for me growing up in Jacksonville, Florida. Trips to 7-11 were also my Dad's excuse to sneak a cigarette.
Yummy! I always wondered if they were still made. Best Ice Cream Sandwich Ever!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, this Pennsylvania boy well remembers them. Definitely a graham cracker-type cookie around the ice cream. The only thing that ever came remotely close was the short-lived Ben & Jerry's brownie bar... Sad to hear they are definitively gone.

Sarah said...

I saw big wheels at my grocery store today!! Maybe they aren't the same ones? but they were a big round ice cream sandwich with a little thicker cookie, and vanilla ice cream.

Regan said...

You gotta tell us where you are, Sarah!

Sarah said...

I am a homesick texan in seattle :) I saw them at my grocery store called QFC, which is the same company as Kroger, and they were the store brand. I wonder if it is the same thing that ya'll are tlaking about?

henrymrx said...

Hey Mr. Homesick Texan!

I grew up in Maryland, where they still have 7-11s. In fact, one of my first jobs was working at one.

I do fondly remember the Big Wheel and found your page while looking for info on them. I remember chocolate, mint and strawberry flavors with the chocolate cookies as you described. But I always preferred the "original" (vanilla) Big Wheel which was made with OATMEAL cookies. Why they didn't use oatmeal cookies for the other flavors, I'll never know.

Also, I remember that the whole concoction was coated in chocolate. You might be able to add that to your recipe without too much trouble.

Great page! Thanks for posting about this long-lost treat.

-Henry

Anonymous said...

The mustache seems to be experiencing a renaissance, why not the Big Wheel? Like Henry, I remember the vanilla ice cream + oatmeal cookies + chocolate coating variety most clearly. We had them out in Washington State, too. -Trickyafb

jqeskimo said...

OH YEAH!! I love big wheels. I originally from SW Oklahoma. I now live outside of Houston. Not only do they not have big wheels down here, they don't have 7-11. So no big wheel, no big gulp, no big bite, and no slurpee.

Art Carter said...

I remember the big wheels and loved them! the ones i got in ventura, calif were made of 2 oatmeal cookies, with vanilla ice cream in the middle, with chocolate all around it. i still miss them. I cant believe no one has stepped up and made these again!

Robin in MA said...

I was just craving a Big Wheel - it's been while since i thought of them and had periodically cehcked out ice cream coolers trying to find one, and then today went online to look it up & found your page. I grew up in Ft Laud Fl and the Big Wheels i remember at my local 7-11 were oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream, covered in chocolate. Nothing better!!!! I was so sad to discover from your blog that they are no longer in production, what a bummer...i just read all the other posts & see that others remember them the way i do - but choc cookies with pb ice cream sounds yummy too - i'm in MA now and the local ice cream stand just opened up so i hardly ever use my ice cream maker.

Anonymous said...

FOUND THEM!!!!
I'm a native Houstonian and I remember 7 /11 but not BigWheels... my hubby went to the grocery store this morning, I think he's at the Kroger on Hwy 6 & 529 (West Houston) and he called and said, hey, there's something here called Big Wheels, you want to try that? It comes in Vanilla, Black Raspberry and Cookies & Cream. Maybe try a Kroger near you!?
Lori

Anonymous said...

I too was on the internet searching for Big Wheels because like you, I remember them from my teenage years in the 80's. Well, 7-11's left my state years ago and the Big Wheels along with them, or so I thought. I'm sad to hear that they don't make them anymore because they were DELICIOUS.

Anonymous said...

I live in West Texas but I read this great blog to help me remember to be thankful for how great I have it! Love the recipes, the chili gravy is spot on!
CG

Ryan Wade said...

Hello All. I just wanted to let you guys know that I found an Ice Cream with the similar taste and texture of The Big Wheel(Which I first came to know as the Big Otis). If any of you have a Krogers grocery store near by, I found their Moonpie Ice Cream tonight. Its under their 48oz. "Deluxe" brand. It tasted so much like the Big Wheel,it had me on the web searching to see if the Big Wheel had started rolling again! Well it hasn't but, now I found something good enough to not go crazy missing them so much. Oh and on the Food of the 80's Website someone mentioned that Ben and Jerry's Makes an Oatmeal cookie ice cream that tastes similar to the Big Wheel/Big Otis also. The Big Otis is on the Food of the 70's website. :) Same site, different decade. Hope this helps.

Ryan Wade. Spreading the good news of the Kingd....er, ICE CREAM! XD

Mr. Haney said...

In the late '70s, I was pleasantly addicted to 7-Eleven Big Wheels. It was a fabulous product, and I'll never understand the decision to discontinue it. Best ice cream sandwich ever. Thanks for the memories.

Anonymous said...

I saw the Big Wheels at the grocery store.. They're just ice cream sandwiches that are round.. The old ones had graham cracker not chocolate crust, and had a chocolate shell. They were individually wrapped in a clear plastic package with blue and white print.. And they were SO GOOD!!! I can't believe they stopped making them.. (granted, I'm re they were about 800 calories a piece) but it was worth it :(

diannnoeora said...

I complained bitterly when they stopped making big wheels! I always got the chocolate/chocolate covered in chocolate. I am craving one right now!

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