Whether it be soft-served or hard-packed, in a dish or on a cone, chocolate or vanilla, there’s no denying the near-universal love of ice cream.
Throughout the summer, people descend upon local ice cream shops to partake in ordering a vanilla cone or a fudge sundae. It’s why President Ronald Reagan declared July National Ice Cream Month in 1984.
This month, the Telegraph Herald spoke with a number of local ice cream establishments about their ice cream, what makes it special and what is most popular.
Ice Cream U Scream
Along Dubuque’s historic Main Street, a small store seeks to revive the nostalgic memories of classic ice cream parlors. Clad in brimming white and bold red, Ice Cream U Scream invites patrons to order one of the store’s many creamy flavors.
Lisa Haley, owner of the shop, first opened Ice Cream U Scream in 2017. She previously had a busy life as a stay-at-home mom, and the idea of running and ice cream shop was relatively alien to her.
“I wasn’t even a huge fan of ice cream at the time,” Haley said. “I’m definitely a fan now.”
Ice Cream U Scream specializes in serving fresh, hard-packed ice cream through a variety of different methods, including cones, sundaes and shakes.
Along with the traditional classics of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, Haley said her store offers a wide variety of unique flavors. Though, the regular customer base’s favorite is “This S&@! Just Got Serious” — a combination of salted caramel ice cream, sea salt fudge and salted cashews. Many customers also ask to have their ice cream served in a cone, turned upside down in a dish.
“That’s by far our most popular one,” Haley said. “It’s got a unique name, so it’s fun telling people about it for the first time.”
For Haley, visiting an ice cream shop is all about the experience. Customer service is a priority for her store, and she wants the shop’s aesthetic to harken back to simpler times, maybe explaining why many of her customers are older.
Eventually, Haley hopes to start an ice cream truck tied to the business. But for now, she simply enjoys using the unique qualities of ice cream to put a smile on people’s faces.
Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe
Lara Walters first started her ice cream store Three Sisters Sweet Shoppe out of community necessity.
Eight years ago, her hometown of Elizabeth, Ill., was undergoing a program to determine what amenities were missing in the community, and it was determined that they were missing an ice cream shop.
So, Walters decided to open one with her three daughters.
“I teach fourth grade, so this works out well for me to run the shop in the summer,” she said. “My daughters come home and run it with me.”
Situated along U.S. 20, the shop makes a bold first impression with its pink exterior. But Walters said it’s the ice cream that keeps people coming back.
The store’s most popular flavors include Zanzibar Chocolate and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, which mixes cheesecake with raspberry and Oreo cookies. Walters noted that many people predominantly order milkshakes toward the end of the weekend.
“We think that people are returning home to the Chicago area, and they want a milkshake for the road,” she said.
Walters said she believes ice cream should be fun, so she tries to make the store reflect that philosophy with bright colors and providing games for patrons to play.
“The tradition is to go out and get ice cream with the kids, and our shop is very traditional,” Walters said. “We hope that they just want to hang out and stay for a while.”
Since 1986, Grandpa’s Parlour has been serving ice cream to passersby in Bellevue, Iowa.
The small shop, located next to the Mississippi River in Bellevue’s downtown, seeks to recreate the feeling of an old-fashioned ice cream shop.
Eric Flatjord and Krisi Maiers have owned the store since 1996, after purchasing it from the previous owners. Flatjord said the store offers a variety of flavors and toppings.
“If we don’t have what you are looking for, you are probably not going to find it anywhere else,” Flatjord said. “We try to keep a pretty wide selection of options.”
Flatjord said he tries to make a visit to his ice cream shop a unique experience, providing both the feel of a traditional parlour and the natural beauty of the Mississippi River.
Some specialty ice cream dishes are specifically named after the river, such as the Pecan Sand Bar.
Additionally, the shop has several homemade products, including specially made waffle cones and hot fudge, which Flatjord said are made from recipes provided by the original owners.
Flatjord said the homemade products go well with the Parlour’s most popular flavors, including cookie dough, mint chocolate chip and vanilla.
Overall though, Flatjord said the joy of ice cream comes from how universally loved it is.
“It’s a guilty pleasure kind of thing,” Flatjord said. “It’s something that is fun to go out and get and be impulsive with.”