Its the dessert that begs for moderation. But maybe not this month.
It has been 27 years since former President Ronald Reagan declared July to be National Ice Cream Month. For some of us, we see it as a free license to eat as much as we want. After all, everyone loves ice cream. Even French philosopher Voltaire said: Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isnt illegal.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the U.S. produces about 1.52 billion gallons of ice cream annually. And Durangoans are contributing to the consumption.
Mary Juskevich, owner and manager of the Durango Baskin Robbins, says she sells as many as 1,000 scoops on a typical Tuesday night. Tuesdays are Dollar Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins, with junior scoops for $1 and regular scoops for $1.50.
Weve had folks line up at the door 10 minutes early, Juskevich said of the bargain-priced special that is available from 5 to 10 p.m.
One loyal customer, who Juskevich identifies only as Sybil, comes in twice daily for a Cappuccino Blast, a drink made with vanilla ice cream, chocolate and coffee. She hasnt missed a beat in maybe eight to 10 years, Juskevich estimates. Another customer consumes a butter pecan shake every day with his doctors blessing, Juskevich said.
As soon as we see the regulars approach the door, we know what to scoop, she said.
Juskevich recalls one winter storm when she gave her young staff the day off, but she came in to make sure her daily customers could get their fix. Winter ice cream eaters can be few and far between, Juskevich said, so she was grateful for the business.
I wanted to tell Sybil, You keep me going.
While Baskin Robbins used to be known for offering 31 flavors, Durangos store offer 44 flavors, plus a number of sodas, swirls and sundaes. Ice cream cakes range in price from the popular $9.99 custom-decorated cake to the $69.99 mammoth that serves up to 40 people.
Mint chocolate chip, pralines and cream and jamocha almond fudge are the top sellers, she says. All the sherbets, including the popular pink-lemonade and daiquiri ices, are choices for the lactose intolerant. The shop also offers flavors with no sugar added, and anything that does not have cake or cookies added is considered gluten-free, Juskevich said.
Recently, customers have objected to French vanilla no longer being in the freezer case, a decision made by the corporate Baskin Robbins. Juskevich is not sure if the classic flavor is gone for good. I think corporate might just be messing with us, she jokes, adding that shed eventually like to see Baskin Robbins offer an organic ice cream.
At Coldstone Creamery, Manager Sara Knight said French vanilla is among the top three sellers, along with basic chocolate and Sweet Cream, which tastes like frozen whipping cream, she said. Specialty flavor Founders Favorite combines Sweet Cream ice cream with caramel, fudge pecans and a brownie, for a flavor-packed wallop that makes it a customer favorite as well.
At the opposite end of the calorie spectrum is Coldstones Sinless Smoothie a simple drink of fruit, Splenda and water. The Berry Trinity confection, one of several smoothies, is just 110 calories.
Durango is a health-nut town, Knight said, so sorbets and frozen yogurts are popular with the locals, but ice cream served in 5-ounce, 8-ounce or 12-ounce portions still reigns supreme. Customers who are counting calories can opt for a 3-ounce kid-size serving.
Of course, some people throw in some fruit and nuts to make them feel better, Knight said. Other customers are serious about their ice cream, Knight said, describing how customers will occasionally direct when the caramel should be swirled into their order, or how the nuts should be diced, rather than sliced.
Mix-ins are extra, Knight said, noting that custom orders are prepared on a slab as the customer waits, setting Coldstone Creamery apart from many ice cream stores.
Coldstones downtown location, with its flower garden and patio seating, attracts heavy foot traffic in the summer. Everyone gets off the train and comes straight here, Knight said.
For ice cream fans in search of a homemade treat, pastry chefs Alex Klinovsky and Taylor Libby of downtown restaurant Cosmopolitan make theirs from scratch.
Every day, we offer three flavors of ice cream and three sorbets, in addition to desserts that use ice cream, such as our chocolate peanut butter cream cake, Klinovsky said.
The popular cake layers chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cream and cake, lasagna-style, in a great pass-around dessert. Also popular is Colorado rum raisin, a vanilla ice cream with rum-soaked raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Ice cream has the power to bring back childhood memories, Klinovsky said. Good ice cream at the end of a meal leaves a lasting impression.