31 Days, 90 Flavors, and 27 Washington Creameries: My National Ice Cream Month Round Up

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.

“CHOCOWIT!”

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.

CHOCOWIT! (L-R) My cousin sent me a photo of his kid at Snow Goose. Anne’s kids. Supergirl’s first 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 on my personal site.

Gearing Up

It’s not necessary to dress the part for National Ice Cream, but, well, 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.

L-R: Aboard the Ice Cream Cruise — I’m pretending the cap was a gift from the Ice Cream Lobby. The Ice Cream shirts. The cake cup cone fascinator/bun.

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:

from Justice League: War, gif from venomousbeetle

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:

Text reads: “Waiting for the flavor of the day. Day 3 of your ice cream tour.”

By month’s end, I was regularly getting photos with messages like “thinking of you” and “have you tried this?”

L-R: Lisa’s affogato from the Ballard Farmers Market. Cousin Mark’s stop at Mallard Ice Cream.

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.

Forget Coffee. Ice Cream Is Our Life Now.

This map shows only the shops I visited, not the few that are store- or wholesale only. And I keep learning about more. National Ice Cream Month 2018 is going to be epic.

By the Numbers

  • 90+ flavors tasted (link is to a Google Sheet with flavor:creamery)
  • 29 outings
  • 27 local creameries sampled (link is to Google Sheet with details on creameries sampled)
  • 0 Rocky Road 😔 (Poor Rocky Road! I have no idea how that happened.)
  • 7 shops un-visited. Seven! And counting! CHOCOWIT!

My Favorites

You think you’re going to trick me into naming a favorite? Forget it. I’m not an animal! But here’s a few highlights.

Best Mint Chocolate Chip

Ice cream is one of my favorite foods, obvs. But I have a separate entry for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Two mints wowed me:

Mint Fudge and Chocolate Ribbon at Cupcake Royale. “A good take on mint chocolate chip, perfect if you don’t want crunchy bits.”

Fresh Mint at Ice Cream Social. “Won my heart because it instantly evoked the mint my grandfather grew in his yard. Perfectly creamy and slightly savory.”

Biggest Surprises

Mexican Street Corn at Nue. From my entry:

I asked twice and then I finally said in my best PA accent, “are you saying ‘STREET? CORN?’”
Yes. Yes he was, in fact, saying “street corn.” Apparently, it’s a thing.
This ice cream is the most interesting thing I’ve put in my mouth since Mooseballs™.

Sicilian Pistachio at D’Ambrosio. From my entry:

I’ve never had such a good pistachio anything, and I’m including actual pistachios in that.
A scoop of Caramel Fig on the left, pistachio on the right.

Snickerdoodle at Bluebird. From my visit that day:

“What you’d imagine if you were eating a perfectly soft cookie and thought, ‘this would be good as ice cream.’”
At Bluebird: Snickerdoodle on top, Theo Chocolate on bottom.

Friends

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.

Central District Ice Cream Company

A scoop of Roated Vanilla Plum at Central District Ice Cream Company.

Snoqualmie Ice Creamery

A scoop of Peanut Butter Fudge at Snoqualmie Creamery

Glass Bottle Creamery

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:

Ice Cream Social in Tacoma

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.

Sweet Alchemy in Seattle’s U District

This is a tough location. It’s small and it’s on The Ave right near campus. But the staff were amazing, very friendly, and were plain joyful about their ice cream.

Snoqualmie Ice Creamery in Maltby

Kaden and me after my marathon sampling at Snoqualmie.

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?”

Best Sundae

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!

Have a place you want to share?

I am always up for an ice cream adventure! I’ll be doing research between now and next year’s National Ice Cream Month. If you have a shop you’d like to share, please send me the info in this form.

CHOCOWIT! with Me

Follow me for Ice Cream updates and skyline photos on Instagram and Twitter. If you enjoyed this post, please let me know with a ❤, comment, tweet, note.