Every July, the summer sun is a little hotter, neighborhood ice cream trucks ring a little louder and roadside stands that have survived for decades become the gathering places for locals who want refreshment from the heat. It is no wonder why July is National Ice Cream Month.
Ice cream In honor of this summer tradition, I set out on a mission to get the scoop on the best scoops in Ohio. Almost every small town has its own version of a corner dairy hut and it seems the deeper the community roots, the bigger the scoops on the cone.
I made a trip to Stewart’s Ice Cream at Indian Lake for what is one of the best root beer floats I have ever tasted. It turns out, the origins of this tiny ice cream stand started in 1924 with an Ohio teacher, Frank Stewart, who set out to create the world’s best ice cream float. Stewart had a secret recipe and some cold, tall frosty mugs. He opened a humble roadside stand where you can still find those famous root beer floats today in the big, cold glass mugs. Stewarts also scoops up dozens of unique flavors of ice cream, milkshakes and banana splits.
Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt
There is a reason that Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt has received so many accolades over the years. Since 1945, when Alice Handel started serving ice cream at her husband’s gas station in Youngstown, the company has never skimped on the homemade process. In the early years, Handel’s old-fashioned recipes used fresh fruit picked from the Handel’s backyard. Today, all ice cream is still made fresh on the premises everyday with bountiful servings of fresh fruit, nuts, caramel and dark chocolate in every scoop. There are seven locations in Ohio.
Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl
You cannot pass through Zanesville without hearing about Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl which has been an institution in the community since 1948. Ice cream is served up fresh in overflowing bowls and cones inspiring smiles of anticipation long before the first bite. All toppings, including the popular peanut butter topping are processed on-site and the nuts are roasted daily. Tables and chairs look just the way they did more than 50 years ago. Beyond the fresh ice cream, the environment is nostalgic making every bite even more delicious.
I just love the feel of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and Taggarts in Canton is just that. Taggarts looks just like it did when it first opened in 1926. They are known for their famous “Bittner” which is a chocolate shake so thick it requires a spoon to eat, and the “Turtle Sundae”, which is the feast for the eyes with four giant scoops of ice cream, pecans and a whipped cream. These are desserts you might prefer to share. There is an extensive menu of homemade ice cream options including banana splits, ice cream pie, cones and shakes…which are all serve-up in enormous sizes.
Ayars Family Farm
The 1,000 acre Ayars Family Farm outside of Mechanicsburg makes fresh homemade ice cream from the cows that are milked on the farm. Since 1972, Ayars has been a working family farm and uses Guernsey milk exclusively in its ice cream products. Why is it so good? Because the ice cream is made in small batches on the premises to ensure the highest quality. Their 20 flavors include Genuine Vanilla, White Chocolate Raspberry, Wedding Cake, Pumpkin and of course Chocolate and their Signature Strawberry.
Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs is one of my favorite ice cream stops in Ohio. The ice cream is made with 15% butterfat, which makes it very rich in taste. They offer so many flavors you will need a moment to absorb the menu. To make life easier, Young’s also features a “flavor of the week” like Caramel Chocolate Toffee, Key Lime Crunch or Banana Cookie Crunch to help take the guess work out of making a decision. The working farm is a fun place to experience while you enjoy your treat, just don’t forget the napkins.