Monday, June 9, 2008

Coleman's Ice Cream

Shop Name: Coleman's Ice Cream
Location: Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster
Boo's rating: 2 SCREAMS

Coleman's Ice Cream was the first stop in my quest for the perfect ice cream cone in Lancaster, PA. First, some background history: I'm a transplant to the Lancaster area and it's been a rocky transition for several reasons, but that's a subject for another blog. In an attempt to feel more connected to the area, I hopped on the interwebs in search of information about some local spots. What I found was pretty disappointing. Lancaster claims to be a tourist destination, and the locals are pretty fiercely loyal to the town, so I figured there would be all sorts of informative websites. How wrong I was. While I may not be up to the task of creating such a website, I am fully capable of finding Lancaster's best ice cream and documenting it for anyone else who might be interested.

I mentioned I'm a transplant to Lanc and that's relevant for several reasons. I can be totally unbiased in my opinion of these ice cream establishments because they are all new to me. Also, I'm originally from New Hampshire. This may not seem relevant, but trust me- it is. We Granite-Staters are nuts for ice cream. Actually, that's not fair- it's really a New England thing, not just New Hampshire. From the trendy coast of Cape Cod to the backwoods of Maine and everywhere in between you can find some serious ice cream stands. Ben & Jerry's hails from Burlington, Vermont and Blake's Old Fashioned Ice Cream has been a NH staple since early 1900. The bottom line: New Englanders know our ice cream.

Now on to Coleman's. This ice cream stand was the first one recommended to me. I asked a room full of Lancaster locals, "Where can I get a great ice cream cone around here?" Two people answered that Coleman's was the place to go. So I went.

It was a very hot Thursday afternoon last week. I was on my way to work and decided to stop and grab a cone. Upon entering the store, I saw the flavor selection left a little to be desired. The most exciting flavor on hand was a cappuccino based ice cream with cinnamon & toffee mixed in. Total, there were less than a dozen flavor options. I decided on a plain cone with a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of coffee. Busy ice cream is great- who doesn't love a pint of Moose Tracks or Phish Food? But in testing ice cream flavor, plain is best. Both were disappointing at Coleman's. Both flavors were very sweet, but the chocolate flavor was barely noticeable. Also, in the case of both flavors, the creaminess was constantly interrupted by rather large ice crystals in nearly every lick. Not cool. A good scoop of ice cream should be creamy and thick with absolutely NO ice crystals.

The one plus with Coleman's is the fact that they offer plain cones, which are by far the best vehicle for ice cream. Sugar cones are tasty and the crunch is nice, but they ALWAYS leak. Same goes for Waffle cones. I hate having to wrap the bottom of my cone with napkins in order to avoid dripping. Plain cones have no leakage problems- whether flat bottom or traditional cone-shape. Flat bottom plain cones are my fave because of how the ice cream melts into the cone grid at the bottom of the cone. While you eat the ice cream on top, the ice cream inside softens the inside of the cone just enough to make it chewy, while the outside remains perfectly crispy. YUM!!!

In conclusion, Coleman's seems like a nice place to bring the family on a hot summer night. With picnic tables outside and very affordable prices, it's a good choice for a treat with the kids after dinner. Is it the best cone in Lancaster? With nothing else to compare it to, I'm still confident in saying, "No, it's not." I give it 2 out of 5 "screams."

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