The end is nigh and ice cream makes us happy so why the hell not make a list of the ten best ice cream themed gifts you can give. Cone-shaped lip glosses will not do for the ice cream lover you love. Whether your budget is $4 or $400, there’s something on this list that will delight almost everyone.
Give us ice cream (duh). You don’t have to worry about the gift melting before you can give to them. Because of course there are ice cream delivery services. For a monthly fee, you send insulated packages of the good stuff straight to the ice cream lover’s doorstep.
In Seattle, check out Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream Club. Sweet Lo’s is a marvelous small batch creamery and one of the best Seattle has to offer. The club deal is 3 flavors a month for 2 months. $50.
If you’re sending to someone outside of Seattle, check out Ice Cream Source’s Pint Club. They offer several tiers from a variety of brands. Options start at $136.
What I wouldn’t have given for this Ice Cream Tasting Journalover the summer! 33Books’ slim little booklet has preprinted pages to help track the same information for all the flavors tasted. I bought a copy last week; it’s very nicely made, portable, and ready to log my next 91 flavors. $5.
Because bowls are for liars. The Ice Cream Keeper is a kit for assembling your personal, pint-size holder. It’s made to look like a vintage hand-crank ice cream maker and even comes with a padlock. I’m certain the padlock is just for show, right? I mean, who leaves any ice cream in the pint? $10.
Thanks to clever tweeter Donald Li, we now know these Yeti thermoses are just the right size for a pint. There are plenty of pint holders and pint koozies out there, but I like that the Yeti cup pulls double duty with my other ride-or-die food, coffee. $35
Ice Cream sweatshirt. Molly Moon’s taps into the Bluto fashion sense of stating the obvious with this plain sweatshirt. If it’s anything like the matching ball cap I have, it’s soft and sturdy and smells like vanilla. I’m normally pretty salty about $50 sweatshirts, but it’s a gift, so go for it. $50.
This Mint Chocolate Chip Scented Ice Cream Cone Necklace! I have no idea how she does it, but you really can’t go wrong with anything from the unbearably cute Tiny Hands shop. Most items are available as keychains, too, if your ice cream person doesn’t do jewelry. $28.
These luggage tags are perfect for the jet-setting ice cream aficionado. Or just to decorate a backpack. Whatever, these are funky. $10 for the set of 2.
When I saw this at my local co-op, I LOL’d out loud. I mean, LOOK AT THEM. The cone and popsicle and truck are dancing. It’s a great place to stash your ice cream money. $4.
Bonus idea! Holidays are rough for families that have a hard time putting enough food on the table. A charitable contribution to a food bank goes a long way—10 times further, in fact—than canned goods. A gift in someone’s name to Feeding America or another food bank helps spread the love now and throughout the year.
One Sunday morning last month, I was in a local ice cream shop. A family of four walked in. The youngest, a boy about 3 or 4 years old, walked confidently to the counter then turned to the adults.
He made it three syllables and hopped on each one. His brows arched his eyes to their max diameter as he took a deep breath. “I’m gonna get CHOCOWIT!”
That right there — that feeling that you’re about to get something so delightful it makes you talk with your whole body — that is how I feel about ice cream. I’m not a gourmand or a connoisseur. I just like ice cream.
National Ice Cream Month
My friend Angelique is the most dedicated, year-round ice cream enthusiast I’ll ever know. She posted about getting ready for National Ice Cream Month, and I thought, “A whole month? Why not!”
I aimed for a new ice cream thing every day. Flavor, shop, treat, whatever. I wasn’t picky about it. I kept a daily log of my visits, all archived here.
It’s not necessary to dress the part for National Ice Cream, but it helps. When you walk into a shop with your hair in an ice-cream-cone-shaped bun, they know you’re not messing around. You might get to spend a couple hours sampling every flavor in the case. Hypothetically.
I made the shirt at my friend Anne’s house. When we met up for an ice cream outing on the last day, I asked her to use my file and make a matching shirt. We CHOCOWIT!-ed hard that day.
The necklace is my homage to Wonder Woman:
We All Scream for Ice Cream
As soon as I shared about Day 1, I got recommendations for shops I never heard of. Day 2, more recommendations. On Day 3, my dad sent this text:
By month’s end, I was regularly getting photos with messages like “thinking of you” and “have you tried this?”
Sandy ran into my husband, Tom, at work one day. She gave him an ice cream cup and sent me the photo. “Better step up your ice cream game!” While dining at Persepolis Grill, Christine stopped to show me her dessert, an exquisite-looking bastani akbar mashti.
My mom started rating ice creams based on my photos: “I want that” v. “I don’t want that.” My stepmom reported going out for ice cream after seeing my posts. My aunts sent me articles about the history of ice cream.
With this kind of pressure (I kid, I kid), I found and bookmarked the Eater Seattle list of ice cream shops (kudos and thanks to writers Julia Wayne and Adam Callaghan for compiling and updating it). Friends started inviting me on ice cream dates. I started a list. By Week Three, I realized there’s more than enough local ice cream: I could try a new. shop. every. day. In the end, I only tasted one ice cream produced outside Washington state.
I’ve never had such a good pistachio anything, and I’m including actual pistachios in that.
So many friends and family joined in the fun online and in person. When we broke out the pints at a party, Mary Kaye explained, “We have to, Allison’s doing National Ice Cream Month.” At Parfait in Ballard, Jenna said, “Well, she has to sample. She’s doing Ice Cream Month.” I’m especially proud of this comment from “I’m-not-really-an-ice-cream-person” Megan:
“You keep posting things that make me rethink how I feel about ice cream.”
Dear Ice Cream Illuminati: You’re welcome.
Most Beautiful Scoops
Ice cream is gorgeous any way you serve it, amiright? These scoopers presented the prettiest, scoopiest scoops. Shout out to the sugar cone pedestals for these edible sculptures.
A scoop of Vanilla at Glass Bottle Creamery. I didn’t get a close-up until halfway into the scoop. Oops!
Top 3 Shop Visits
The common thread in these places is the staff people. These shops have friendly folks behind their counters, all ready to give you the most CHOCOWIT! experience possible. They’re knowledgeable about the flavors and ingredients. They recommend flavors. They make you feel like the line behind you isn’t there. And they are excited to share their ice cream with you. Many of the places I visited had some of these elements, but these few went above and beyond, listed here in order of visit:
I noticed a fun vibe as soon as we entered the store. They decor and retail items are all centered on ice cream or Tacoma, there’s ample seating to enjoy inside. Plus great ice cream and friendly staff.
Kaden made my day by letting me sample to heart’s content. I went with my friend Anne and we told him about this being the last day of my ice cream month adventure. So even though they didn’t have a sample board, he let me taste flavors in between other customers. He shared his favorite flavors, told us why, and explained the different formulations (custard, gelato, ice cream, etc). No question stumped him: “What’s ice cream base?” “What three flavors would be the ultimate combo?” “Where’s the bathroom?”
I only had three sundaes all month (Shug’s, Dick’s, and Molly Moon’s). This section is really an excuse to talk about Molly Moon’s whipped cream. It looks and tastes hand whipped. Well done, ice cream chef and your android-level whisk skills.
The Never-Ending Ice Cream Story
I had a lot of fun sharing. Next year, I’ll plan the month to include road trips to more locations in Western Washington. A small endeavor compared to the magical ice cream unicorns behind the account Ice Cream Trek. They’re touring local ice cream shops the U.S. and Canada this summer. CHOCOWIT!
There are so many more shops I didn’t get to visit this month! I’d read about a food truck called Sweet Lo’s. I really wanted to try them—Lo makes the base, and I’m learning this is a thing in the ice cream world. I messaged them on Facebook and Lo herself wrote back to me, explaining they’re just selling in stores right now.
I really appreciated her response. So even though I didn’t get a chance to have an ice cream date with friend at a Sweet Lo’s location, I picked up a pint on my way home July 31st and had a spoonful just to say I tried it this month.
I’m not sorry. This was really effin’ good. (And remember, I’d just been to Ice Cream Heaven earlier in the day.)
Very soft, creamy, and a great balance of cookies. I wish I’d been able to sample more flavors, but I will definitely try more in the coming months.
While I was in the ice cream aisle, I spotted some goodies from a creamery I hadn’t heard of: Whidbey Ice Cream. I got a basic vanilla pop with a chocolate shell. Because dinner, I guess. Whatever, it was also good. If you see it in the store, it’s a good ice cream fix!
Snoqualmie Creamery with Anne! Anne was with me on Day 1. We thought it would be fun to finish the month together, too. Anne also has a cutting machine and a tee shirt press. At the end of June, I made my ice cream shirt the same night I made my pizza shirt because they are the top two of my Favorite Eleven Foods. I wasn’t even planning to wear the ice cream cone shirt on Day 1 but Anne’s kids thought the paint stains on my other shirt looked like bird poop.
So when we planned for today, I asked her to make a matching ice cream shirt. She tie-dyed it, too. Can you imagine what a hit we were in Maltby, Washington (pop. 10,000)?
I made this little cake cone thing for my ponytail. Before you ask, no, I did not pinterest it. I imagined it and sketched designs and glued it all on my own. I only burned myself once in the process. Sadly, I forgot to ask Anne the height clearance inside her car or to factor in that my hair in a bun weighs about seven pounds. Between the responsibility of operating someone else’s car and trying to preserve my coif, Anne said, “You’re not a very aggressive driver, are you?”
Between the ride and my impossibly thick hair, the cone slid down all afternoon. Every time I started to take a photo, Anne would say, “Wait! Your cone is flaccid.” They didn’t give us funny looks at the diner. Really.
Once at the Ice Creamery, we tried nearly all the flavors. I was disappointed to learn that they do not offer a tasting flight! However, our server, Kaden, let me sample as much as I wanted. I tasted nearly all the flavors. They had ice creams, gelati, custards, and sorbets.
Anne got a dish with Salty Caramel and Mukilteo Mudd. I got a cone with Peanut Butter Fudge, which I couldn’t finish, because, sampling. It was the second most beautiful scoop I received this month. Also, so you don’t think I’m a jerk, I tipped him 400%.
On the way home, we stopped for water. Anne dug into her change purse for coins. “I have exact change!”
“We have plenty of pennies in the take-a-penny cup,” the cashier said.
“No,” said Anne. “I have a lot of coins.” Anne then hoisted the equivalent of a fifteen-pound kettle ball in loose change.
“Oh! That is a lot of coins,” said the cashier.
“You should have felt this purse before I took out the ten Sacajawea dollars!”
“How did you end up with ten one-dollar coins?” I asked.
“The Tooth Fairy brings them,” said Anne. “Then I exchange them for paper money.”
“Why doesn’t the Tooth Fairy just bring paper money?”
“I don’t know!”
“Anne,” I said, “you know the kids aren’t here, right?”
Later, we debated whether Kaden spelled his name with one or two Ds.
“It has to be just one,” I said, “that’s the rule!”
For the next two miles, Anne intentionally mispronounced every street sign and my cone popped off my ponytail.
Ice Cream Cruise with Tom! I’ve wanted to do this for a couple years and this month was the perfect time to make it happen. It was a great outing for the penultimate day of National Ice Cream Month.
I treated myself to this cap from Molly Moon’s but I’m pretending it’s a thank you gift from the Ice Cream Lobby. (Bonus: it still smells like the waffle cones they make in the store.)
The boat tools around Lake Union while Captain narrates silly Seattle trivia: the houseboat he almost bought for $600 in 1962, the rusted out Russian spy ship, Dale Chihuly’s bathroom, the Sleepless in Seattle house.
Below deck, the ticket seller/deckhand/ice cream server sells floats and treats. I got a basic ice cream sandwich and Thomas got a Dove bar. We spotted our apartment from the water and had a little “aww” moment when we passed the spot where we got married. It’s a splendid day to be on the water.
This is a newish market in our rotating neighborhood farmers markets. It has the feel of being a consolation prize for Amazon employees stuck working on Saturday. It’s only a block long and no fresh produce sold here, just prepared food. Once a month they have a theme and this month it’s ice cream. I was able to taste 3 shops I haven’t been to yet this month.
I started with Sweet Bumpas, which several of you have encouraged me to try. I opted for a scoop of the Fresh Mint Cocoa Crumble. I liked the sample, but the flavors were…overpowering for a whole scoop. I also sampled: Chocolate Malt (very good) and Chipotle Peanut Brittle (spicy good).
Next, I tried Seattle Pops. I bought a Blueberries and Cream Pop. Blueberry is one of my Top Eleven Favorite Foods, and this pop didn’t disappoint. It was creamy enough to be sweet and yet not overwhelm the blueberry. It was also iceberg-level-frozen: great for a hot day.
I made my way over to Street Treats. They sell ice cream sandwiches and it’s kind of fun to order. You get to pick your flavors on the spot. They give you a generous scoop in between two delicious homemade cookies. I sampled Coffee and Toasted Coconut ice cream flavors. I couldn’t really taste the coconut, probably because my tongue was still thawing from the popsicle. I got a sandwich with Coffee Ice Cream (made with Caffe Vita coffee) and snickerdoodle cookies. So good! Their shop is in the nearby Central District neighborhood, so I’ll be going back. When I went to tip them, I realized that I accidentally dropped my used sample spoons in the tip jar. The owner said, “Eh. They’re as clean as money, right?” So there’s that.
I sat down to eat the sandwich and found myself next to a bulldog. He was in a baby stroller. He was not the only dog in a baby stroller here, but he was the only one wearing a bowtie. Down the block, a busker played the Batman theme song on a violin.
There was a line about 70 people and 3 dogs deep for “rolled ice cream.” Every time I passed, I asked people if it was good. “I dunno! I haven’t tried it yet.” I talked with folks in the line for Hawaiian Shave Ice, and they said that the market doesn’t have the rolled ice cream very often.
“Is it good?” I asked.
“It looks good in pictures,” they said. Sure enough, when I got a closer look at the line, it went: order food, get food, stage photo, exit line. I re-applied my lip balm, which had started to liquefy in my purse, and decided to skip this one.
Being at the street market reminded me of a few icy goodies from back home that I really miss: the waffle sandwiches at Dorney Park and good ol’ Italian Ice from a truck. If you’re in PA, have some for me!
Tomorrow is the long-awaited Ice Cream Cruise—today’s event was accidentally posted as happening tomorrow, so I don’t have to double up tomorrow. Whew! There’s just two more days till the end of National Ice Cream Month. If you haven’t had an ice cream adventure this month, hurry up!
Canarino in Edmonds, with Kate! I was so excited to try this that Kate had to remind me to take a photo. This shop has a tasty selection. I sampled the Pear sorbetto, Dark Chocolate sorbetto, and Chai gelato.
My complexion has gone haywire this month (I refuse to see a connection, thankyouverymuch). This morning I made my own facial toner with tea tree and lemon essential oils and witch hazel. As I left the house, my husband said, “you smell like Lemon Pledge.” Fortunately, it was a warm morning and I drove with the sunroof open to off-gas my face.
But lemon was on my mind, I guess. I chose the eponymous Canarino gelato, with its lemony goodness and bits of cookies. Kate, who did not recoil from my vapors, had a combo of Amaretto and Vanilla gelato.
Molly Moon’s (Redmond location) with my friend Stef and her kiddos! Molly Moon’s is one of my faaaaaaaaaavorite places on earth. Their shop on Capitol Hill introduced me to the salted caramel flavor and specialty ice cream shop years ago.
We needed an east side location so we met up at the shop in Redmond. (Sidenote: WTF Bellevue with your no local ice cream places?!) I arrived early so was walking around Redmond, with its miniature replicas of Capitol Hill stores (Rudy’s, Top Pot, Half Price Books, etc).
A man named Dragon walked next to me for a few blocks. He was in the midst of what sounded like a challenging situation and I was sympathetic. But then he started talking avenging matters and his swords (plural). I looked for the place he was least likely to follow me into.
Which is how I came to get a manicure.
Once I met up with Stef and her boys, I sampled away and decided on a sundae with:
* lemon blueberry cheesecake ice cream
* earl grey ice cream
* lemon curd topping
* candied hazelnuts
* whipped cream
* and, of course, a cherry
The whipped cream stole the show. It looked and tasted handmade, it was just the right amount of sweet, and it was heavenly dense.
There was some heated discussion about A’s cone compared to the size of his head. Bigger? Longer, maybe, but not as wide. I maintain the volume is roughly equivalent. I mean, kid got a double scoop! I suspect the staff went a little extra—they were very sweet with the kids and super excited about the ice cream. As we ate our scoops and caught up a little, a man walked by with a floor length cape. Keep Redmond weird, I guess.
We both sampled the Cucumber Lime Sorbet, which I liked but Lisa thought it tasted like hand sanitizer. I was confused about that until she said “Bath & Body Works” and then it clicked.
Walter’s is a totally cute little place where you can get: ice cream, espresso, beer, and wine. If you sit outside you can pet all the neighborhood dogs whether you want to or not. The shop was apparently out of beer pretzels. The customer in front me said, “I should have brought my own nuts.”
Tomato Melon Mint at Frankie & Jo’s on Capitol Hill. This was so darn good! It tastes mostly of watermelon (which I love), but the tomato and mint really make it interesting. The texture is very, very nice.
Frankie & Jo’s is a “plant-based ice cream” shop. The ice cream is crazy flavorful. The few others I tried tasted magnificent but the textures were a little gritty for my liking. I sampled California Cabin, Gingered Golden Milk, and Chocolate Date.