New England Ice Cream

July 9, 2010

I’ve been in New England the last few days and it has been really hot and humid. To compensate I have been eating ice cream every day.

Better yet I haven’t even been making it. I did start to make some to go with the cake I made my nephew for his birthday but the motor blew out on my White Mountain ice cream machine. My husband tried to keep it going with an electric drill but the canister wouldn’t turn fast enough. Fortunately within 5 miles of where I am staying there are 4 old fashioned ice creameries. After dinner we quickly clean the dishes and away we go.

In the Bay Area we are happily spoiled by artisan ice cream shops. They make delicious and interesting ice cream. Each is distinct in its own way. I have my favorite flavors at Birite, Humphrey Slocombe and Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.

But city ice cream is different from east coast creameries. The flavors aren’t as sophisticated but they are institutions. Many creameries have been around for decades and haven’t changed much. Traditionally they were located at the dairy where the cows were milked. Open only in the warmer months some offer only so-so ice cream but some rank up there with the best. Near me one is designed as the shape of a bucket of ice cream, another like an old fashioned milk can. A third has a piano in the back of a pick-up truck in the parking lot for entertainment while you are waiting in line.

Most offer a wide choice, between 15 and 20 different flavors, some of which are special to the New England area. Besides the basic vanilla, strawberry, coffee, and chocolate you see Black Raspberry (often with chocolate chips), Frozen Pudding (vanilla with candied cherries, candied pineapple and yellow raisins), Grape Nut (yes, it is what you think it is), Mocha Chip, Peppermint, Blueberry, Moose Tracks (Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Cups), Ginger and Maple Walnut.

There is some jargon to be aware of when ordering. If you order a milk shake you will get flavored cold milk- no ice cream. You need to order a frappe if you want a thick mixture of ice cream and milk made in a blender. To further add to the confusion a frappe is called a cabinet in Rhode Island.

Scoops are double the size of California. My brother asked how much ice cream was in a double scoop of a waffle cone. The response- “The first is soft ball size, the second tennis ball size.” A small in New England is a medium or large in San Francisco. That’s a lot of ice cream but when its 95 degrees I certainly don’t mind.


  1. There is nothing like a good frappe. We live in the midwest now, and I love going home to Massachusetts every so often to have a good frappe or cone with Jimmies.

  2. A FRAPPE is made of Ice Cream, SYRUP, and Milk. In New England this is the way a REAL FRAPPE is made. If you want a MILK SHAKE then it’s just Milk and Ice Cream…. Lets get it right if you are going to talk about the real – original thing… I don’t know how you do it in Mass. – but in New Hampshire – This is how it was always done…………………………..

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