According to the International Dairy Foods Association in its report on ice cream sales and trends, about 1.4 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts (like gelato and sorbet) were produced in the United States in 2017 — the last year for which data is available. The average American, the same body reports, consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream annually.
Another industry group, the American Dairy Association, estimated back in 2011 that there were about 80,000 ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt shops around the U.S. — and the number has surely grown since then.
There are big ice cream chains, of course, including Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Cold Stone Creamery, Carvel, and many more. But many communities also have smaller, independent operations, many of them making their own product, often using local and/or organic ingredients and turning out a changing menu of flavors — including these 18 incredible ice cream varieties that we wish would come back from retirement permanently.
Ice cream parlors — or shops, or joints, as you prefer — tend to be community favorites, popular gathering places, for obvious reasons: No reservations are necessary, there’s no dress code, the prices are almost always reasonable, and they sell something almost everybody loves.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a state-by-state list of the best ice cream parlors in America — the best, according to Yelp reviews. Despite being the highest rated, many of these shops are not among the most well-known in their state. In many states the competition is cutthroat. This is the most popular ice cream shop in every state.
To identify the best ice cream parlor in each state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed for each state the 10 top-rated parlors in the ice cream category on Yelp. Parlors were ranked based on the average rating and number of reviews on Yelp compared to all other parlors in the same state. To be considered, shops needed to be in or near a city with a population of at least 100,000 people. In states with few or no cities of this size, parlors in smaller cities were also considered. This data was obtained on July 17, 2019. We excluded chains and establishments not primarily devoted to ice cream or similar frozen desserts, and otherwise used our discretion to ensure that only independent parlors were considered, though some have more than one shop.