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Main Dish

Scooping out the local ice cream scene

By , - Last modified: July 31, 2012 at 10:06 AM
The chocolate peanut butter sundae at Ice Cream Heaven & BBQ Cottage in Harrisburg. Photo/Erica Streisfeld
The chocolate peanut butter sundae at Ice Cream Heaven & BBQ Cottage in Harrisburg. Photo/Erica Streisfeld

Did you know that about 90 percent of Americans eat ice cream regularly? Or that 9 percent of milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to make ice cream?

Well, read it and weep (or celebrate)! Or at least that’s what the International Dairy Foods Association says. After all, it is National Ice Cream Month. First hot dogs, and now ice cream — July sure is scrumptious.

On a whim the other day, I stopped at Ice Cream Heaven & BBQ Cottage on Derry Street in Harrisburg. Honestly, I happened to be driving by and the comfy deck lured me in. OK, OK, and the name. While the hand-dipped ice cream is not homemade (it’s Jack & Jill brand), they use it to make tasty sundaes, including chocolate peanut butter, strawberry shortcake and a truly enormous banana split. This place also offers more than 50 soft-serve flavors.

Admittedly, these don’t hold a candle to the fireside s’mores sundae at The Jigger Shop in Mount Gretna. Vanilla ice cream, graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate squares, marshmallows and pretzels served flaming in a souvenir campfire mug — how can you go wrong? Another frozen treat served flambé-style is the baked Alaska sundae, which includes up to three flavors of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and whipped toasted meringue.

What’s really king in the world of frosty treats (other than Wendy’s, of course)? Homemade ice cream. Leo’s Homemade Ice Cream in Carlisle sets a scooper example of using fresh ingredients to create both classic and off-the-wall flavors, you know, like cinnamon Oreo and the popular corn bread ice cream.

The same goes for Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt in York. Many of its flavors can only be described as downright irresistible: graham central station, strawberry cheesecake chunk, deep-dish apple pie and funky monkey. Um, yeah, I think you might be getting a double scoop.

Wild Maine blueberry, mocha marshmallow and salted caramel praline are just a few of the made-from-scratch stars at Sweet Willows Creamery, also in York. But here’s the best part: You can rent the Sweet Willows ice cream truck (aka The Willowship) for an event, and the shop will even make you a custom flavor in honor of the affair!

But I must say that my personal favorite is Carmen & David’s Creamery in downtown Lancaster, which makes its ice cream with local dairy and mostly local produce. With 30 hand-dipped flavors on the board every day, it’s no wonder there’s a line outside the door on many summer nights. Some flavors go so fast that I’ve seen them take a flavor down and post a new one mid-shift. With flavors like milk chocolate, peppermint stick and fluff-r-nutter, you might not be able to decide on just one. So go for a sampler, which contains either three or six mini-scoops!

Here are some other not-to-be-missed ice cream shops in the area:


Custard & Soft-serve

What’s your favorite flavor?

Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Multimedia, parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal, but she moonlights as a foodie and wino. Many people also know her as founder of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and owner of Little Ditty Pops. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.


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