“I doubt the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream.” —Heywood Broun, New York newspaper columnist, 1921 My first clear memory was of waking up at age 4 from a tonsillectomy on a Caribbean island and a nurse bringing me a dish of vanilla ice cream for […]
By Mel Allen
Jun 28 2022
“I doubt the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream.”
—Heywood Broun, New York newspaper columnist, 1921
My first clear memory was of waking up at age 4 from a tonsillectomy on a Caribbean island and a nurse bringing me a dish of vanilla ice cream for my raw throat. Yes, it was a “soul-stirring surprise.” I can’t count how many cones and dishes I have enjoyed since that day, but only one or two have remained with me this way. How many other foods carry across continents and generations with the same delightful cry in countless languages: “Let’s go get ice cream!”
I think of ice cream adventures that New Englanders have savored through the decades: families who stood in line in the 1920s at the first Howard Johnson’s in Wollaston, Massachusetts, or in the 1930s at the first Friendly’s ice cream shop in Springfield, Massachusetts; the birthday parties in Boston after World War II, when Hoodsie cups emerged from freezers with their tiny wooden spoons. Imagine in 1973 discovering Steve’s Ice Cream in a former laundry in Somerville, just outside Boston—a New York magazine called it one of the eight best in the world.
Then in 1978, on a day in early May, customers entered a converted Burlington, Vermont, gas station and tasted the first ice cream flavors created by two young men named Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and the world of ice cream would never be the same. Soon Time wrote this: “Ben & Jerry’s, in Burlington, Vt., makes the best ice cream in the world.”
Often my childhood summer evenings would end with my father driving us through tiny towns as quick to come and pass from view as the gleam of fireflies. While it may have seemed aimless meandering, we always knew where we would eventually stop: Jamison’s Dairy Farm. For all of you who understand the quest for a cone to remember, this issue celebrates 36 of the most beloved ice cream stands and shops in New England [“Get the Scoop,” p. 76]. Many are local secrets, like High Lawn Farm in the Berkshires, where milk from Jersey cows goes into what some say is the richest ice cream on the planet. Others are destinations for foodie pilgrimages, like Arethusa Farm Dairy in the Litchfield Hills, where cows are treated like celebrities.
When you go to the places on our list, look around: kindred ice cream adventurers everywhere. And if we missed your own all-time favorite ice creamery, let us know. I bet we can find someone here to check it out.