Exploring YEG’s Trendy Ice Cream Shops
Living in the university area has always been pretty hip. With Whyte Avenue’s bars, restaurants, shops and theatres, just around the corner, I often think my wallet empties in direct proportion to the number of hipster beards and Blundstone boots I see when I’m out with my friends. And this year, there’s a new hot spot in town: the ice cream shop.
Search #yegicecream on Instagram, and you’ll get over a thousand posts — most of them from students and youth. Not to mention the 45+ minute lineups at Made by Marcus and Kind during their openings and throughout the summer. Will YEG’s ice cream shops continue to bring the heat this winter? In this post, I explore what makes three of the university area’s ice cream shops so unique AND so popular.
Kind Ice Cream
I took my family (including our new puppy, Pepita) to Kind Ice Cream, a quaint ice cream outlet in the Ritchie neighbourhood. Nestled across from a cafe, brewhouse, and butcher, there’s no doubt this area is hip. The most common age demographic for Ritchie residents is 25–29 years old, and according to realtor Jessica Jefferys,
“Millennials are searching more for a lifestyle provided by a community rather than a particular house” (CBC 2017).
I asked Paula Syba, one of Kind’s owners, some questions over email:
What is Kind’s philosophy?
Our philosophy at Kind Ice Cream is to bring the community together though the shared experience of enjoying high quality, delicious ice cream. We believe in using thoughtfully sourced ingredients and are committed to reducing our impact on the environment in every way we can.
What is Edmonton Made?
Edmonton Made is an incredible local program dedicated to supporting Edmonton businesses like ours. We’re proud to craft our ice cream in small batches right here in Edmonton and love featuring local artisans in our flavours.
What vegan flavours do you serve?
Right now we offer three vegan flavours: Lemon and Jammy Raspberry, Toasted Coconut Charcoal, and Cookie Dough. We’re looking forward to releasing a few new vegan flavours soon!
What are your plans for winter? Will you continue to serve ice cream?
We will be staying open through the winter, serving up ice cream. Though we do expect to be less busy than during the summer, we know that Edmontonians are up for embracing our colder months and are excited to be here for it. Ice cream is actually pretty tasty at -40.
Made by Marcus
I took my boyfriend out to Made by Marcus, arguably one of Edmonton’s trendiest dates. Strolling down Whyte Avenue and turning off onto the narrow, lamp-lit path to Made by Marcus is an experience designed for the camera and selfie-stick-loving people of the city. During our date, we sampled their tomato cantaloupe ice cream and saw about 6 other students we know in the long but fast-moving lineup.
How did Made by Marcus get its name?
“Ever wonder who comes up with all of the crazy concoctions at Made By Marcus? Well, Marcus himself of course! With a bachelor’s degree in food science and nutrition at UBC, making ice cream is more than just good taste…it’s science!” (via the Made by Marcus website).
Made by Marcus began in Calgary. Why did it move into Edmonton?
The company’s marketing and operations spokesperson, Brittany Savage, noted in a 2019 interview with the Edmonton Journal that
“They have been overwhelmed with requests for the ice cream store to come to Edmonton ever since it opened in Calgary” (via Edmonton Journal).
What vegan flavours are available?
The Edmonton location currently serves a vegan chocolate fudge brownie, peanut butter cup, and a salted caramel date. Beyond this, Made by Marcus’ website currently lists nine regular ice cream flavours, and three rotating seasonal specials (via the Made by Marcus website).
Does Made by Marcus collaborate with anyone on their creations?
Owner Marcus Purtzki says that
“Back in Calgary we work with chefs and coffee companies and distilleries, and there are lots of fun collaborations you can do every month, when we create a series with a concept.” (via EatNorth).
In Edmonton they have created a Mango IPA sorbet with Odd Company Brewing, and an Earl Grey Financier and Raspberry ice cream with Duchess Bake Shop. Let’s hope for more local collaborations soon!
Yelo’d Ice Cream & Bake Shoppe
I took my sister and her puppy to Yelo’d, a Filipino and Asian-inspired ice cream shop on Whyte Avenue. With flavours like ube (purple yam) and matcha (green tea), Yelo’d is a taste of home for many Edmontonians. On a sunny day, I tried a chocolate-dipped ube ice cream bar so cold I had to wait several minutes to bite into it.
I interviewed my friend Manuela, an education student at UAlberta, about her experience as an employee at Yelo’d:
What is your favourite thing about working at Yelo’d?
I’d say all the new things that come with it: the innovation behind all the new flavours. It doesn’t get boring, it’s always new and exciting.
Where did Yelo’d start? Is it anywhere else?
Yelo’d is the first of their kind in Edmonton. There are more Filipino businesses like Jollibee coming into Edmonton and we have a community of regulars which spreads the word and keeps the business going. We get so many people interested from outside Edmonton as well, and I think it would be cool if we branched out. The owners often say they didn’t realize how big it would be!
Do you get a lot of student customers?
Oh yeah. I’ll often recognize people. On Instagram, a lot of the following is younger people. I’d say that’s a lot of our customer base.
What is your favourite menu item?
Right now, I’m a fan of the tostados. We get pandesal, a Phillipino sweet butter bread role, cut it open and put an ice cream puck of your choice inside (I like the custardy keso), toast it shut, cut it in half, and put some powdered sugar on it. It’s a delicacy in my opinion. It’s warm and easy to eat, because you can just hold it.
What do you think about the growing trend of ice cream shops in Edmonton?
Edmonton is often very cold, you know. It’s an interesting place for this trend. I’m all for it because there’s a healthy kind of community [between] the different ice cream shops. For example, one of the first Instagram posts by Edmonton’s Made by Marcus was advertising Yelo’d’s soft serve, since Made by Marcus only makes hard ice cream. Even though there are so many [shops], they’re all coming at it from a different direction.