I have always liked to think of myself as an ice cream connoisseur. I like all the forms: hard ice cream, soft ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, etc. Growing up, the three of us kids (I have an older sister and a younger brother) always knew it was a special occasion when our parents would take us out for ice cream. My memories from these childhood trips to the ice cream parlor centered surprisingly not on taste but rather on the smell of the place and the sight of the ice cream. Nothing, and I mean nothing, smells better than when you walk into an ice cream place. To this day, when I walk into a place that specializes in ice cream and that smell engulfs my nostrils, I am taken right back to when I was four years old.
Likewise, when I think of my childhood days visiting the ice cream parlor I remember the bright, seemingly glowing colors of all the different ice creams sitting right next to each other. At the time, it really seemed like a magical place. “If only I could get on the other side of the counter” I would think as the store employee probably looked on in horror as I pressed my hands against the glass.
Enough about my nostalgic ice cream memories though. This post is for me to rank the three ice cream chains I am most familiar with. Based on the fact that I have lived in the western United States my whole life, I have always gotten ice cream at either Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone, or Dairy Queen. Nothing against places such as Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs, I have just not bought ice cream from their scoop shops enough to rank them. So without further ado, here are the rankings.
1. Cold Stone Creamery – Taking a bite out of anything that this place creates is like taking a bite out of heaven. No other ice cream is nearly as rich or as flavorful as Cold Stone. You could be content simply with a cup of their ice cream in it. However, with all the mix-ins offered and all of the established “creations” available, you are really in for a major treat. The whole schtick of them preparing your creation on a stone is pretty cool. The singing that the employees do is the absolute worst part of the Cold Stone experience but their ice cream is good enough to suffer through it. When I was in high school I had a friend who worked at Cold Stone and she would always go completely off the deep end by adding probably 4X the standard amount of mix-in to whatever I ordered. Yes, that was pretty awesome. Cold Stone also gets a nod from me for having the best smelling parlors.
Brent’s Choice at Cold Stone: Love It sized Peanut Butter Cup Perfection
2. Dairy Queen – Dairy Queen is home to probably the most famous ice cream treat in the country: The Blizzard. I absolutely love blizzards. What is better than delicious soft serve vanilla ice cream mixed with large pieces of soft candy bars/cookies/cookie dough? DQ is always coming up with different blizzards as well so there is always something new to try.
Quick story…When I was probably 11 years old, my aunt took me to a DQ and I tried (this is no joke) a grape kool-aid, pop rocks blizzard. That’s correct, grape kool-aid ice cream mixed with grape pop rocks. I never had it again.
Besides blizzards, Dairy Queen serves great sundaes and other signature items. Their brownie earthquake sundae is amazing and sometimes I still will even order a Dilly Bar.
Brent’s Choice at Dairy Queen: Medium Cookie Dough Blizzard
3. Baskin-Robbins – By placing Baskin-Robbins third in these rankings, I am in no way saying that it is a bad place for ice cream. It is actually a great place for ice cream. I just feel that they really do not have a special “schtick” or signature item that separates them from the competition. Of course they do have 31 flavors and that is pretty cool. If you want old fashioned hard ice cream with minimal frills, Baskin-Robbins is your place. Also, the smell of a Baskin-Robbins store is just narrowly under that of Cold Stone. I also feel that B-R makes the best ice cream cakes (Yes, I have had ice cream cakes from all three places).
Brent’s Choice at Baskin-Robbins: Scoop of Peanut Butter and Chocolate and a scoop of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a sugar cone.
I could talk about ice cream for hours but I think it is time to stop for now. Don’t Blink.