Hot summer days are the perfect excuse to give into the temptation of ice cream. For an unusual twist on one of America’s favorite foods, check out one of these ice cream vendors in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Given the line of people that spills onto Market Street outside The Franklin Fountain soda fountain and ice cream shop, it’s clear something is happening here you don’t want to miss.
What is all the fuss about?
When you visit, you feel like you have stepped back in time. That impression comes courtesy of the shop’s vintage ambiance, staff donning traditional soda jerk costumes, made-on-the-premises ice cream, and its cash-only policy. It’s not just the atmosphere, however, that draws the crowd. Flavors are imaginative, including everything from Whirly Berley (chocolate with honey nougat, salted chocolate caramel, and cocoa nibs) to Cherry Butter Almond. The rich, creamy, flavorful ice cream is served up in generous portions. You can also treat yourself to sundaes, egg creams, and ice-cream sodas.
The only drawbacks to the step-back-in-time party for your taste buds is the lofty prices and long lines.
Sweet Charlie’s draws out-the-door and around-the-block lines, boasting itself as “Philadelphia’s first hand-rolled ice cream shop.”
Borrowing from a technique popularized by Thailand street vendors, Sweet Charlie’s makes its ice cream, yogurt, or vegan base to-order in front of you. The creamy concoction quickly forms small crystals when it’s poured onto frigidly cold metal plates (about 20 degrees Celsius). Servers sprinkle on the mix-ins of your choice, scrape the ice cream off the surface and roll it into a cylinder shape. Mix-ins include Rise and Shine (Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal), Love Park (chocolate, pretzel, and peanut butter) and many more. If that’s not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, add a final flourish with sprinkles, drizzle or another topping. Finally, select how you want your ice cream served — in a cup or, for something completely different, in a glazed donut roll.
Instead of an endless list of ice cream variations and customer blends, Weckerly’s conjures up about six flavors a day of ice cream and sorbets using locally-sourced ingredients. Per its website, the cream originates at Seven Stars Farm in Chester County. Herbs and fruits often hail from small urban farms on the edge of Philadelphia.
You’ll likely find vanilla ice cream every day of the week, but other options may surprise you. After all, founders Jennifer and Andy Satinsky love to experiment and create new flavors. For instance, I recently experienced Basil Lime, Lemon Verbena Black Raspberry, and Blueberry Breakfast. You’ll also find about three ice-cream sandwich selections a day.
The ice cream here is flavor-filled, creamy, and not too sweet. If you can grab a seat, you’ll enjoy the quaint, boutique setting and cheery pastel colors.
Twistee Treat, located at Frankford and Longshore in Mayfair, is part of a chain that originated in Florida in the 1980s. Its eye-catching 25-foot-tall building, which looks like an ice cream cone topped with cherries, attracted me, especially because I had children tagging along.
At this soft-serve gem, you can twist together two of your favorite flavors — perhaps pistachio and green apple or banana and coconut. Also, available to tempt the taste buds are slushies, sundaes, and ice cream blended with candy. The ice cream is sweet, velvety, and sublime.
When it comes to serving up nostalgia, C&C Creamery in Roxborough tops the list. Its website shows pictures of youngsters and adults lining up for opening day in 1955. Now, third and fourth-generation members of the founding family run the “Custard Stand,” as locals know it.
C&C’s wide selection of creamy concoctions includes soft and hard ice cream, soft yogurt, ice cream sandwiches, and milkshakes, which attract lines to the counter and drive-through window. Of course, as suggested by the name, there are ice cream cakes, too.
The food is fresh, the flavors creamy, and prices reasonable.
If you’re going out for ice cream in the Philadelphia area, don’t settle for the same old thing. Try a restaurant with an old-style ambiance, unique creation process, distinctive flavors, or attention-grabbing architecture.
Carolyn Frith, a content consultant who owns Carolyn Frith Marketing, aims to rid the world of snore-and-bore writing on the web. She covers Philadelphia events and real estate options and a range of other content.