Summer is on the horizon, and to me, nothing says summertime like ice cream. To be fair, I’m actually a fan of ice cream during any season (see my post calvin bio). But as the chilly weather fades into warmth and sunshine, there’s no place I’d rather get ice cream than Norm’s.
I first visited the seasonal Fruitport ice cream shop when I was a kid. My grandparents had just moved into a condo a few streets over and stumbled upon Norm’s while doing errands one day. At the time, Norm’s was rather unoriginally called Food & Ice Cream, though food selections were already phasing out.
To be sure, the place has always been known for ice cream. The first time my grandparents took my brother and I for a treat, they warned us about excessive portion sizes. Norm’s wasn’t quite as popular as it is today, but the shop already had a budding reputation for bestowing large amounts of ice cream. I remember ordering my first small Oreo flurry, and the ice cream towered far above the top of the cup. It was incredible.
As the years have passed, Norm’s is still my family’s go-to choice for a cold treat. In addition to the generous portions, the selections are plentiful, the staff is always friendly, and the prices are consistently lower than other places in the area. We have a handful of ice cream shops within a ten-minute radius of our house, but the few extra minutes to get to the other side of town is always rewarded by a great experience. Norm’s has three locations now, but we’re partial to the original spot.
Although it’s become our own family tradition, we enjoy having friends or family members join us for a trip to Norm’s—especially when they’re new to the experience. Once, my dad convinced my brother’s college roommate to order the largest size available. I’d never seen a more gargantuan serving of ice cream in all my years as a regular. The small plastic dish struggled to contain the football-sized portion of cookie butter hard-serve. Though he was determined, our newcomer wasn’t successful in his attempt to finish it.
These days, I think my appreciation for Norm’s has less to do with the portions and more to do with memories. From birthdays to holidays to regular weekend trips, Norm’s has been a staple of happy summer moments. As the days get warmer and the evenings stay lighter, standing in line for ice cream makes me pause and appreciate everything I love about summer in West Michigan.
I also appreciate having a fiancé who shares my love for Norm’s. On the night he proposed, Jake insisted on making a trip to Norm’s to conclude the special night, even though we were almost an hour away. Once we got our ice cream, we sat in his truck and talked about the future in between bites of Oreos and brownie pieces. Although summer was beginning to wind down, the usual melancholy was replaced by newfound giddiness and anticipation.
I think that will always be my favorite trip to Norm’s.
Kayleigh (Fongers) Van Wyk (’18) graduated with a degree in writing and resides in West Michigan. She works as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine while also making time for freelance writing. When she’s not behind a screen, she enjoys going for walks, eating ice cream, and buying more books than she’ll ever read.