Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dairy Queen

Shop Name: Dairy Queen

Location: Columbia Ave

Boo's Rating: 2 1/2 Screams

Ok, I'm gonna be straight with you- this wasn't my first trip to a DQ. One of my favorite treats of all time is an Oreo Blizzard. Today, I decided to order the new Xtreme Chocolate Blizzard. It's made with chocolate ice cream, brownie bits and chocolate chips. Delicious, right? Well, I'm thinking they didn't follow the recipe quite right at the DQ today. Mine was clearly made with a vanilla ice cream base and the amount of brownie bits and chocolate chips was shameful. DQ, I expected better from you! It was such a disappointment that I might call it a fluke and give the DQ another shot a little later in the summer. But for now, I'm afraid the Boo Rating is 2 1/2 screams.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Freeze & Frizz

Shop Name: Freeze & Frizz

Location: New Holland Pike

Boo's Rating: 2 1/2 Screams

I think the Freeze & Frizz is better for BBQ or burgers than it is for ice cream. They have a handful of softserve flavors, and some shakes and malts, but that pretty much covers it. They do have one thing going for them- the dip. I sampled the chocolate soft serve in a cake cone with chocolate dip. It brought me back to my childhood. Also, it's always impressive when they dip the cone perfectly. When I was in high school, I had a job serving ice cream and the dip was the hardest thing to master. Especially the strawberry dip. Anyway, their ice cream was okay- nothing too spectacular. The dip was exciting in theory, but not that delicious in practice. I'd probably rather have chocolate sprinkles. Just in case you're interested, the Freeze & Frizz also has the pretzel cone. It appeared to be the same manufacturer as the pretzel cone at the Willow Street House of Pizza, so I didn't feel the need to try it again. Although, maybe I'll go back sometime and have them dip the pretzel cone! That sounds delicious!

In the end, the F&F gets 2 1/2 Screams, but I'll definitely go back sometime to try their BBQ.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Shop Name: TCBY (The Country's Best Yogurt)

Location: Hempstead Rd.

Boo's Rating: 2 1/2 Screams

I have fond memories as a young girl of going to TCBY with my father. When those shops first started springing up all over the place, we'd drive down there after I'd finished school for the day and get a sweet treat. He was really into it- my dad's got a sweet tooth that I think I inherited. They had so many flavors of yogurt back then! It was all the rage because of the frozen yogurt low-fat recipe. I think there was even a Seinfeld episode about it. I was a little disappointed in the flavor selection at the Lanc TCBY. They only had chocolate and vanilla, and of course, the twist. For hand-dipped ice cream there were 8 flavor options total. In all fairness, the TCBY is a small counter in a gas station, but I don't think that's an excuse for only 2 flavors of frozen yogurt!!! As I was leaving, the girl behind the counter said that next week, there would be other flavor options. Maybe they'd just run out and were waiting on a shipment. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they could have 4 or 5 more yogurt flavors.

I sampled the hand-dipped chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles on a cake cone. (Side note: I bow to the infinite wisdom of the Lancaster, PA ice cream establishments in regards to this breed of cone. Three of you have now referred to the flat-bottom plain cone as a "cake" cone. No coincidence, methinks.) The ice cream was creamy and delicious and the flavor was great- very chocolate-y. Also, the girl behind the counter was very smart in her scooping technique. All too often, the ice cream scooper will just mash the scoop onto the top of the cone and you have to hope that the ice cream melts down into it. This girl was brilliant- she scooped a smaller ball of ice cream and then filled the inside of the cone with it. GENIUS! After that, she topped the cone off with a larger scoop. I was really impressed with her mad scooping skills and the delicious ice cream. It was all ruined by the stale cone, though. As soon as I bit into it, I knew it was over. TCBY, I'm afraid you're past your prime, so you only get 2 1/2 screams.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gigi's Grill

Shop Name: Gigi's Grill

Location: 896 Near the little "Sight & Sound"

Boo's Rating: 1 Scream

All I have to say is don't bother. I can list the flavor options for you: Chocolate, Vanilla and Twist and also Sugar free Vanilla, Sugar Free Raspberry. Yes, you can clearly see from the picture of crazy Mindy that they have plain cones and chocolate sprinkles. Too bad my cone was so stale it even had a weird taste. They get ONE scream for not ruining the ice cream and the chocolate sprinkles. HOWEVER, if you want a decent burger & fries, they've got a great menu of diner-style food. Just get one of their pies for dessert instead of ice cream.

In other news, next month is National Ice Cream Month, so please feel free to comment with your favorite ice cream in the Lancaster area because next month I'll be hitting it hard. I'd especially like to hear about unusual flavors, or something that makes YOUR favorite ice cream shop special.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Willow Street House of... Pizza???

Shop Name: Willow Street House of... Pizza?

Location: Willow Street (duh!)

Boo's Rating: 3 1/2 Screams

I know you think I'm crazy, but this place was recommended to me by a local. She read my Bruster's blog and said that the H.O.P. will be my "answer to a raspberry ice cream cone." Who am I to turn down an ice cream recommendation from a local? I googled directions to the place and Monday afternoon I set out to sample. Too bad the Willow Street House of Pizza is closed on Mondays! DENIED! It's a good thing I'm persistent and not easily deterred. Tuesday afternoon, I drove back out there. It was right around lunch time and there were a few people dining on some delicious looking pizzas and subs. I might have to visit again for lunch sometime. Around the corner from the pizza counter is the ice cream counter. The raspberry flavor is actually a soft serve, which I haven't reviewed yet in the Lanc area. I sampled just a small taste of it and it was so creamy and delicious that I made it my choice of the day. The H.O.P. has chocolate, vanilla and raspberry soft serve as well as a half dozen or so hand-dipped ("hard serve") flavors.

However, the most exciting thing about the H.O.P. is their menu of cone choices. Yes, they have "cake" cones and of course sugar cones, but they have something else I've never seen in all my 29 years. They call it a "pretzel cone." Ok, take a minute and recover from your excitement- I know I needed to when I saw it one the menu. The lady behind the counter had no information regarding the pretzel cone, so I really had no choice but to try it. You know, for research! Don't you agree that it's a completely BRILLIANT idea? Because of their saltiness, pretzels are the perfect food to pair with sweets! Here is some evidence:

Take 5 candy bars
Chubby Hubby ice cream
Chocolate covered pretzels

Need I say more? Well, even if I don't need to, I will. I can't believe I had never encountered a pretzel cone before! It really seems like pure genius to me and after tasting it, I think it's got real potential. I ordered the raspberry soft serve in a pretzel cone and the combination started out AMAZING. The salt on the outside of the cone was perfect with the ice cream- every lick was absolutely delicious- the perfect combination of salty and sweet. I was disappointed when I bit into the cone, though. The texture was really hard, but not in the crisp pretzel-like way I had anticipated. It was very difficult to bite into the cone and the flavor of the cone was nothing like a pretzel. I think that if someone really set their mind on making the perfect pretzel cone, they could possibly move on from there to world domination. I'd like to suggest chocolate dipped pretzel cones as an option as well for anyone who pursues this amazing invention. This area has cornered the market on perfect pretzels, so I'm sure there's someone around here who can make it happen. If you know anyone in the pretzel business, please have them contact me. This could be the next great development of our time.

OK, enough about the pretzel cone. All in all, the H.O.P gets 3 1/2 screams because their flavor choice was limited, and while the raspberry was rich and creamy, it didn't blow my mind. If they had a better pretzel cone and more flavor choices, they'd really up their rating in my book.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Strasburg Country Store & Creamery (SCS&C)

Shop Name: Strasburg Country Store & Creamery

Location: Main Street, Strasburg

Boo's Rating: 3 1/2 Screams

I found a coupon in my "Hospitality Days" Coupon Book for the Strasburg Country Store & Creamery. Too bad when I got there, I forgot to use it. Oh well. I guess that means I'll have to go back sometime soon! And I probably will. I googled the SCS&C and found out it's a bit of a tourist attraction. It's a cute little country store filled with your typical Amish-town souveniers, books about the Amish, quilted pot-holders, bonnets, etc. There is also a rather large selection of candy- everything from full-size bars to bulk candy, formerly known as "penny candy." The ice cream parlor has a selection of a little over a dozen ice cream flavors, with the option of adding "mix-ins" on their frozen stone. Trendy, right? You'd think so, but the shop itself is SO cute and homey! I totally fell in love the minute I walked in. It feels like you're stepping back in time with the iron tables & chairs, the bucket full of ice & bottles of sasparilla, the chalk board menu, and all sorts of chotchkes and decorations that take you back to another era. Even the staff behind the counter are wearing black and white striped oxford cloth shirts with white collars, black "Colonel Sanders" ties and black newsboy hats. I am not lying when I said I fell in love. I don't even care that it's all meant to manipulate the tourists into spending more money!

On to the ice cream. SCS&C also has the "cake" cone! I asked the girl behind the counter if it's a regional thing to call it a "cake" cone. She said she'd never heard that term before working at the SCS&C. I'll keep investigating that term. Maybe someday I'll get to the bottom of it. I sampled a flavor called "E.T. Special" on a cake cone (duh). It's vanilla ice scream with lots and lots of Reeses Pieces mixed in. I asked why it's called "E.T. Special." Once again, the salesperson was not much help, but then I seemed to recall something in the movie "E.T." and how E.T. loved Reeses Pieces candy. It all makes sense, right? Maybe the girl behind the counter is too young to remember that small detail from the movie. (SCS&C you just lost points for making me feel old.) The ice cream was rich and creamy and CHOCK FULL of peanut butter pieces. YUM! The overall experience earned the SCS&C a total of 3 1/2 screams. I'll definitely be back later in the summer, even if I don't have a coupon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bruster's Real Ice Cream

Shop Name: Bruster's Real Ice Cream

Location: Columbia Ave.

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

Happy Father's Day, folks! My father lives 400 miles away, so I spent my day deliberating where to go for my next ice cream cone. The choices in Lancaster are getting rather limited. told me there was an Edy's on Hempstead Rd. The interwebs lied. Either that, or I drove past it without seeing it. Instead, I ended up at Bruster's Real Ice Cream on Columbia Ave. It was such a perfect summer day- not too hot, but hot enough where an ice cream cone is the perfect refreshment.

I was really excited to see that they have a flavor called "Purple Dinosaur" listed. Where I'm from, we've got a flavor called "Purple Cow" that I haven't seen around here. It's basically black-raspberry ice cream with white chocolate chunks. Get it? Purple cow? So I thought Bruster's "Purple Dinosaur" was going to be something similar. I asked about the flavor at the window, and was sadly informed that "Purple Dinosaur" is nothing more than vanilla ice cream with a whole lot of purple food coloring. Gross. Not to mention really disappointing. There were a lot of other interesting flavors listed on the board including one I'd never seen- Chocolate Oreo. I had to have it. Who doesn't love Oreo ice cream, right? And CHOCOLATE Oreo? Delicious, right? Holla. I asked if they had plain cones and the girl at the window said they had sugar cones and "cake" cones. "What's a cake cone?" I asked. She brought one over the show me and lo and behold, a "cake" cone" is a flat-bottom plain cone! HALLELUJAH!!! Bruster's is the FIRST place on my ice cream quest to serve them! Whoo-hoo!!! I could barely contain my excitement. I ordered a single scoop of the chocolate oreo on a "cake" cone. The flavor was fabulous- nice and chocolate-y. And the texture was totally different from any other ice cream I've ever had. It was light and fluffy, almost like the texture of mousse. I usually like my ice cream really thick, but the light airiness of this was actually really nice. And it was CHOCK FULL of oreo cookie bits. The only complaint I have is that the "cake" cone was actually really stale. Maybe because they call it a "cake" cone, people don't know what that means and instead order a sugar cone, so the "cake" cones end up sitting around getting stale. I dunno. Either way, the stale cone and the food-coloring filled ice cream knocked Bruster's down a bit to a total of 4 screams, which is still a stellar rating.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Shop Name: Friendly's
Location: Lincoln Highway
Boo's Rating: 3 1/2 Screams

Who hasn't been to a Friendly's? Who's never experienced a "Happy Ending Sundae" or a "Jim Dandy?" This post is very straight-forward because I think you've all "been there, done that" where Friendly's is concerned.

Ice Cream Selection: Good

Ice Cream Quality: Good

Topping Selection: Good

Let's be honest. Friendly's is pretty darn good. I'm not saying I'm shouting from the rooftops that it's the best thing to ever happen to ice cream, but it's not too shabby, right? Decent flavor selection, good quality ice-cream, lots of sundae options. And who doesn't love the way they make the smiley face on the ice cream with the cone on top so it looks kinda like a clown? No happier ending than that, my friends. But what's the best thing about Friendly's? When you order a Fribble, you get the glass full of milk-shake goodness with a side of- that's right- milk shake goodness! It's like you get two Fribbles when they bring over the glass filled with Fribble alongside the metal Fribble mixer cup with the "left-overs." You know how sad you feel when you're done eating something delicious? Well, with the Fribble, you get to delay that sadness by one entire glass-full of milk shake. And you're so full of sugary, ice-creamy milk-shake when it's over that you're really not that sad. You're satisfied.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oregon Dairy

Shop Name: Oregon Dairy
Location: Oregon Trail... ummm, I mean Pike
Boo's Rating: 3 Screams

Visiting the Oregon Dairy was a lot like playing Oregon Trail as a kid. I hopped in my covered wagon (AKA 2002 Toyota Prius- whatevs, they have like, the same emissions, dude) and Laura followed behind in hers. Laura was the first person to join me in my quest for the perfect Lancaster, PA ice cream and I think it's safe to say she'll be begging to come along again. Especially since she survived this trip without getting dysentery. (Which is more than can be said for the average Oregon Trail game.) Anyway, we traveled along Rt. 30 to the Oregon Pike. After losing several oxen to the journey, we finally arrived at Oregon Dairy where oxen are abundant, so I wasn't too sad over the loss of mine.
Let me just say that this place is HUGE. It was seriously crowded, and let's be honest- that's always a good sign for a food-service establishment. Oregon Dairy is far more than just your basic ice cream stand. It's part grocery store, part farm, part tourist trap, part restaurant, part ice cream parlor, part-- well, you get the picture. After wandering around a bit, we asked for directions to the ice cream portion of this farm-themed monstrosity. Upon entering the ice cream parlor, I was fairly impressed. The selection of ice cream flavors was pretty large. The poor kids working the counter have to wear cow-print baseball hats, and that upped the entertainment value of the O.D. significantly. They let me sample a couple of flavors, so I tried to keep my sarcastic remarks about their uniforms to myself. I tried a sample of peach cobbler ice cream and their choco fudge before deciding on the chocolate peanut butter with a plain cone. YAY for plain cones! Laura had the same flavor and we both agreed that on a hot summer afternoon, it really hit the spot. But if I were to be really critical, I'd have to say that all the flavors I sampled were pretty run-of-the-mill. The chocolate base of the chocolate peanut butter was pretty average, and as much as I love that combo, the peanut butter swirl totally overpowered the chocolate ice cream. Also, since the chunks of PB were so large, it made the choice of a plain cone as an ice cream vehicle kind of difficult. It would have been more suited to a cup, but I guess we can call that poor judgement on my part.
I recommend it as a place to bring the whole family- there are tractor rides and giant cows and all sorts of fun things. Overall, I gave the Oregon Dairy 3 Screams. It would have been more, but Laura nearly drowned as we tried to ford the river.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cold Stone Creamery

Shop Name: Cold Stone Creamery
Location: Park City
Boo's Rating: 2 1/2 Screams

Cold Stone is the franchise that brought the "frozen stone" concept to the masses. If you like your ice cream busy, this is definitely a place to try. I personally feel that Cold Stone is highly over-rated. People RAVE about this place, but I have to admit, I just don't get why. First of all, the mix-in concept is hardly new. DQ's been serving the Blizzard for years, am I right? Just because it's mixed on a stone and not in a cup, people think, "OMG! This is amazing!" But let's break it down, ok? In order to have a good cup of busy ice cream, one must first start with high quality ice cream. Just because you're adding a bunch of stuff to it doesn't mean it can be crap. Cold Stone's ice cream is run-of-the-mill at best. The flavor is average, the texture nothing special and the mix-ins can all be found at your local grocery store. In other words, "I'm over it."

NOTE 6/16/08: It has come to my attention that ALL Cold Stone Creameries in Lancaster, PA have been closed. No word yet as to whether or not they will open anytime soon. No big loss, if you ask me.

Maggie Moos

Shop Name: Maggie Moos

Location: Fruitville Pike

Boo's Rating: 4 1/2 screams

Yes, you're reading that right. 4 1/2 screams. 5 is the highest rating you can get. Ben & Jerry's is the standard for a 5. That basically means super rich ice cream with full (almost intense) flavor, and perfect creamy texture. For busy ice cream, it means all of the above with one added requirement. EVERY bite must have the mix-in. Busy? Means BUSY. Ok, that being said, Maggis Moos is gonna rock my world this summer. It was so delicious that I'm inclined to stop my search right here at blog #3 and declare a winner, but that wouldn't be fair, so don't worry- I'll keep sampling ice cream as long as there are ice cream stands I have not visited. But when I want a REALLY AMAZING cup of ice cream, I'm heading down to Fruitville Pike and going to Maggie Moos.

For anyone who has never been to Maggie Moos, it's a frozen-stone concept: plain ice cream flavors with many mix-in options. The possibilities are endless, right? Right. Many people think the whole "frozen stone" concept is new, but we've been seeing these types of shops since the 80's. It wasn't until Cold Stone & Maggie's that the concept became so widespread. Gotta love the franchises, huh? And yes, Maggie's IS a franchise, HOWEVER, they make their ice cream fresh on the premises every day. And they do a darn good job of it. I entered the Maggie Moos on Fruitville Pike earlier this week. The salesperson was extremely friendly and explained the whole concept to me of choosing an ice cream base and then choosing mix-ins. I was skeptical. Often, these types of frozen stone places use cheaper, lower quality ice cream because they're gonna mask it with all the mix-ins. Not Maggie Moos. I asked to sample a taste of their dark chocolate flavor. It was so incredible, I almost decided to order it plain! The flavor was out of this world- so chocolate-y and rich! The texture was velvet-smooth and super thick. It was heaven on a spoon. I decided that since I'd tasted it plain, it was ok for me to add some mix-ins to my final order so I opted for peanut butter and peanut butter cups. I ordered the smallest "kiddie" size available and have never regretted it more. Next time I'm getting the largest size they have. And making no apologies for my indulgence, either! I would have licked the bowl if it were socially acceptable.

So, with such a rave review, why only 4 1/2 stars? Well.... they don't have plain cones- only sugar cones. Sorry, Maggie Moos. Hook me up with a plain cone and you've got a perfect score. Until then, 4 1/2 screams it is.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rita's Italian Ice

Shop Name: Rita's Italian Ice
Location: Lincoln Highway
Boo's Rating: 3 Screams

I gave Rita's a decent rating because the "water ice" is flavorful and the frozen custard is creamy and delicious. But let's be clear, kids- it ain't no ice cream stand. I asked some locals where they go for good ice cream and they sent me to Rita's, so I tried it. Imagine my surprise to find NO ICE CREAM on the menu. Frozen custard is pretty good, though. I'd never had it before moving to PA, and for those of you who've never experienced it, it's like an extra-thick, really creamy soft serve. Yum. I sampled a "gelati" with vanilla custard and raspberry ice..... more on that later.

Rita's "Italian Ice" is often referred to around here as "water ice." That seems strange to me. Isn't that kind of redundant? Anyway, the ice at Rita's has more of a slush consistency. I'm used to Italian ice that's a little more solid, and much smaller ice crystals. You know the kind- it comes in a little paper cup and you scrape the ice with a little wooden spoon! To each his own- I'm not here to critique ice. Also, Rita's always has a sugar-free ice flavor so yay for that.

What bothers me about Rita's is their "gelati." I hate to break it to you, but pouring slush over frozen custard in NO WAY resembles gelato, and changing the last letter of that word doesn't fool anyone. Let me sum it up: Slush by itself, tasty. Frozen custard by itself, also tasty. The two together: Not so tasty and also not gelato. I was surprised that they don't even mix the two. I think if they did, it might give it a consistency more in line with gelato. Instead, they just pour one on top of the other! Weird, right? I guess some people like it, or it wouldn't be on their menu.

So, in the end I gave Rita's 3 screams. They lost points for not actually serving ice cream, but flavor and consistency of their products (when served separately) is pretty good. I'm not taking points away for the whole gelati argument since it's really up to the patron to decide whether or not they want to combine ice and custard. Also, even though I'm not a fan, obviously some people are and my beef with Rita's is more the misleading naming of the treat.

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."