To this day, whenever someone asks you to get ice cream, does the ice cream jingle automatically start playing in your head? You know, the one that goes: “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” I had never put much thought into why I think about that jingle or when I started reciting it until my friend must have finally heard it enough to ask me why. It got me thinking… after a few good reminiscing minutes, I proposed this question to my friend:
When you were a kid and you heard that beloved ice cream truck song, what did you do?
I am sure your answer to that same question is not much different than my own or my friend’s. You would immediately stop whatever you were doing and in a crazed frenzy run to scour your room for enough change to buy that ice cream bar, or you’d bolt to find your parents and beg them for the $2.50. Either way, you were running to find money and screaming for someone to stop the truck.
Flash forward to today and while we no longer need to run and scream for ice cream, it still has a special place in our hearts.
Here are some of my favorite places to go to in Chicago and a brief description of the differences between ice cream, frozen custard and gelato.
Ice Cream – with 20% cream and 10% milk, it is typically less dense and served frozen
If your taste buds want to venture out into the wonderful world of ice cream, the following shops will be a great place to start. Each offers a unique variety of flavors, toppings, and ambiance.
Jeni’s features an array of unique and delicious flavors of ice cream, all made with Fair Trade ingredients. Jeni Britton Baur looks to the seasons, pop culture, culinary history, and world trends when developing new flavors. One could say, she finds the sweet silver lining in just about anything!
Here are a few examples of what Jeni’s has to offer.
Just as its website reads – “nothing fancy, just a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere to gather with old friends or meet some new ones”– George’s Ice Cream & Sweets is truly the coolest place to hang out in. Whether its coffee, popcorn, cake-pops, or ice cream, everyone is able to find something they love at George’s.
What I found the most unique about George’s Ice Cream, is its partnership with the local coffee shop, Dark Matter. Not only does George’s offer Dark Matter coffee, it also created a specific milkshake around the company’s coffee.
(Just a note if you want to learn more about Dark Matter, I went on a Caffeine Crawl earlier this summer and had a chance to learn about the company’s roasting process. Read about it here.)
Get back to your Irish roots with Gourmet Cone’s flavors. This gourmet ice cream shop features a retro vibe with unique and delicious flavor options. Furthermore, the outdoor seated area is perfect for taking the kids to get a nice cold treat in the summertime!
Located in what was once the Moehling General Store and Post Office of Mount Prospect (which dates back to 1882), Capannari’s Ice Cream truly embodies tradition in every sense. Ever since it was founded in 2001, this family owned and operated shop evokes a simpler and inviting atmosphere. The shop’s community involvement is just another reason why it has captured the hearts of so many Chicagoans.
The abundance of flavors offered at Capannari’s range from classic chocolate all the way to Jamaican Blue Mountain Java Chip (shown below).
In 2002, Capannari’s was awarded “Best Ice Cream in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine.
Having been in business for over 145 years, Greater’s Ice Cream truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience. What makes Graeter’s unique is how the company makes its delicious ice cream. Since 1870, Graeter’s has used a 2 ½ gallon French Pot to make its ice cream one batch at a time. The company is also known for its ginormous chocolate chunks, which definitely leave kids wanting more!
Gelato – churned very slowly to create a very dense texture; with a higher milk to cream ratio, it contains 5-7% less fat than ice cream; it is also kept 5-10 degrees warmer than ice cream, which heightens the intensity of flavors and promotes a smoother mouthfeel; they also have to be given a fancy Italian name (alright fine, this is not an actual requirement, but it is basically an unwritten rule!)
Founded by pastry chef Jessica Oloroso, Black Dog Gelato (BDG) has combined artisanal work with inventive flavor combinations. Plus, with gelato handmade daily, it is no wonder that BDG is truly one of the best in Chicago!
BDG also offers catering, so think about adding a little extra “cold” flavor next time you have a get-together or work event!
The story behind Paciugo Gelato is truly that of an American Dream. Owner and founder, Cristiana Ginatta, grew up eating gelato in Italy. She went on to study the art of traditional gelato making at culinary school. After moving to the States, her family decided to share the flavors of the Old World with their town in Texas.
What started as a local Texas treat in 2000, has now expanded nationwide–featuring locations in Washington, California, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and of course Illinois.
When you walk into a Paciugo Gelato store, you are truly experiencing traditional Italian gelato.
“From father to daughter, from the Old Country to the New World – The Ginattas want to share the gelato love with you and your family” …and with their 49 locations, they truly are accomplishing their dream!
Frozen Custard – with a high percentage of butterfat and egg yolk, it is thicker and creamer than ice cream
Walking into to Lickity Split Frozen Custard is like walking into a 1950’s candy shop mixed with an ice cream parlor – basically every child’s dream! Your choices of concretes (milkshakes) and sundaes are totally up to your creativity. And your tastebuds! The team invites you to design a treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Scooter’s uses local ingredients from family farmers of Central Wisconsin to make their delicious custard. After extensive testing across the dairyland (and some of my favorite Wisconsin custard shops), they created the perfect balance of sweet and creamy for their brand. Scoot on by to Scooter’s Frozen Custard for some classic choices.
Whether you decide on frozen custard, gelato or ice cream, your sweet tooth will thank you. These childhood favorites are the ultimate comfort food. We enjoy it alone, with family and friends and in celebration of special events. A cone, milkshake (concrete) or in a sundae. It simply doesn’t matter. There are even adult versions available for those who are more adventurous than chocolate and vanilla. Where are your favorite places to go for an icy cold dessert? What flavors do you like best? Happy Summer!
Thanks for stopping by!