It should come as no surprise that July is National Ice Cream Month – so designated in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. We’re a nation of voracious ice cream consumers – second only to China – and July is our busiest month for both ice cream production and consumption, from sea to shining sea.
Even though you can get ice cream at any supermarket, independent ice cream parlors in downtowns, on highways, and in strip malls endure because they are as much a part of the summer ritual as going to the beach. For many of them, community building, protecting the environment, and food security are passionate issues. Besides expanding physically and online, many have built a wholesale business and distribute their products in retail outlets. (Check out the best ice cream shop in every state.)
There are plenty of ice cream shops across the country to slake the appetite of ice cream aficionados and picking the best is a mouth-watering task indeed. To compile a list of the best ice cream parlors in America, 24/7 Tempo considered ratings and reviews on a variety of food and general interest websites, including The Daily Meal, Eater, Today, PBS, Spoon University, Thrillist, and Yelp, as well as numerous local and regional sites.
Most of the parlors on our list make their own ice cream on a small-batch scale. Many have created unusual flavors like rhubarb crumble, chocolate bacon toffee, Vietnamese coffee, Iowa sweet corn, or rye whiskey eggnog sugar cookie. (These are among the delicious ice cream flavors we wish would come back.)
None of those crack the most popular flavors list, at least yet. International Dairy Foods Association and Research America in 2022 conducted a study of U.S. ice cream data and trends (well, somebody had to do it) and found that Americans rank chocolate as their favorite ice cream flavor, followed in this order by cookies n’ cream, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate chip, cookie dough, buttered pecan, French vanilla, chocolate chip cookie dough, and caramel/salted caramel.
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