Summer is in full swing, which means it’s peak ice cream season. With so many options, it’s hard to know where to start, so I’ve compiled my extensive research into this helpful guide for you. Given that I created my own separate bucket list just for ice cream and that I spend roughly the same amount of time educating my intern about ice cream* as about the publishing industry, I’ve decided it’s time to share my knowledge with the masses.
Soft serve is the bare basics of ice cream. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but if you’re getting soft serve and not dressing it up a little bit, you’re doing it wrong. A twist is acceptable, as is getting the the whole thing doused in sprinkles or chocolate. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, splurge for the Flavorburst.
When going out for ice cream, getting an exemplary hard serve cone should be your primary goal. When evaluating an ice cream shop, there are many questions to ask: where is the ice cream sourced from? Do they make it in-house or is it imported from somewhere else? How often do they rotate their flavors? Are there vegan options for a more inclusive ice cream experience? Will they let you sample before choosing your flavor? How many samples will they let you have before you are politely asked to leave?
Full disclosure: I had an extremely formative experience at the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont when I was nine years old. As such, I will be a Bovinity Divinity and Half Baked fan til I die. The rest of the freezer ice cream is lost on me in this stage of life, where I can’t eat a half gallon before freezer burn sets in and my loyalty for B&Js runs deep.
My first foray into homemade ice cream was the old fashioned rock salt plastic bag method on a camping trip. My hand-eye coordination was put to the test at a young age, as getting the creamy goodness out of the bag without scraping the salt onto your spoon on the way out is a real challenge.
Now as an adult, yes, I do own a ice cream maker but no, it does not reside in my New York apartment. Feel free to weep with me. Having this kind of machinery is a real game changer, since the flavor can be fully customized. The drawback is that while you can get creative, you do not have Ben and Jerry investing in your “I think pomegranates WILL taste great with chickpeas and both of these DEFINITELY need to be combined into one ice cream” whims. You come up with the pairings; you face the consequences.
See also: popsicles. Invest in a simple four-pop mold, whip up a batch of these bad boys, and prepare to have your mind blown after four to six hours of freezer time.
Derivatives: milkshakes, gelato, frozen yogurt
Sometimes, ice cream just begs for a straw. It needs a straw. Do not fight your ice cream on this; the ice cream knows better than you. Any time your ice cream has dripped down the outer rim of your cone onto your hand immediately upon contact, that is your ice cream telling you that you should have gotten a milkshake. Listen up next time.
Gelato is ice cream’s beautiful, unapproachable cousin who visits twice a year but whom you continue to think about the other 363 days a year in a constant state of anticipation.
And finally, a warning: unless the year is 1998 and you’re eating at the food counter at Hudson’s department store, frozen yogurt is a scam. The price of your frozen treat should NEVER be a mystery. You should NOT need to choose toppings based solely on weight! That ignores all the basic principles of dessert! It’s time to take a stand! Have some self respect and get yourself some ice cream!
*Intern did not know what Flavorburst is. She has so much to learn.
Catherine Kramer (’14) has a degree in English and works in publishing. Her continued existence is made possible by grace, warm hugs, and iced chai lattes.