I’m fortunate to live in a neighborhood where I can walk to Graeter’s and UDF for my ice cream fix. I’m also a short drive from my favorite creamy whip, though I’d rather not remind you of its existence; the lines are already too long.
This time of year always brings back traditions and memories with the daffodils and tulips. We clean up and reopen the baseball fields, the swimming pools, the outdoor patios, and the family-owned creamy whips. Some streets will start hearing the tinkling siren call of the ice cream truck on weekend afternoons. And I’ll be able to buy a cup of peach ice cream again at our Graeter’s.
This month’s issue celebrates the memories, feelings, and connections we associate with ice cream (“The Inside Scoop”), as well as the booming business that frozen treats do across the region. I honestly didn’t know how many individual storefronts, multi-location companies, portable carts, and food trucks were open now, nor did I comprehend the full menu of options under the ice cream umbrella. You’ll find recommendations in these pages for gelato, sorbetto, sherbet, soft serve, frozen yogurt, artisan popsicles, rolled ice cream, extruded ice cream, Italian ice, ice balls, milkshakes, and even a cotton candy burrito stuffed with ice cream. Many come in dairy-free, lactose-free, fat-free, and vegan varieties. You can add alcohol to some of them.
The explosion of ice cream flavor and production choices reminds me of similar developments with beer and coffee. Regional and local favorites got bought up by big national brands when we were kids, and for several decades we really had just a handful of choices, and we didn’t mind that much.
Then local folks started making their own beer and coffee from quality ingredients and offering a communal experience around their products, and craft scenes were born. New brands became regional favorites, and small mom-and-pop shops opened as neighborhood anchors across the region. It’s fun seeing the same level of creativity, passion, and entrepreneurship happening with ice cream. Which food or drink do you think will be next to take the craft leap?