Photo from my visit to San Francisco's Bi-Rite Creamery, Jan 2007.
Cold Stone Creamery: Rich and empty, nauseatingly sweet and vaguely artificial, it's the Paris Hilton of ice cream. "Mix-ins are a great concept, in theory. Ice cream is delicious. Cake and candy are delicious. Simple digestive mathematics dictates that combining the two should double the delicious…Whereas a visit to Ben and Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs leaves me wanting more, a visit to Cold Stone leaves me wanting a salad and a shower." Salon takes a look at the mix-in ice cream trend and what that's doing to plain old ice cream.
It's funny, there's a Cold Stone near my parents' house and on a recent visit I stopped in because I was really craving a hot fudge sundae. I couldn't even tell if they sold hot fudge, I didn't see any signs of it and I couldn't find it on the giant menu board. But they had it, so I got a "small" (it must have been three scoops) of sweet cream ice cream and hot fudge. And I too couldn't finish it. It was OK, but nothing great, and a bit of a disappointment given my craving. The ice cream really had no flavor at all, it just tasted cold, if that makes sense.
I worked at Herrell's Ice Cream in Harvard Square, and so I've served my fair share of mix-ins. But at least there, the ice cream was also good quality, so if you opted not to mix, you could get a solid cone, or a great sundae (fresh homemade hot fudge, real whipped cream). Why are quality ice cream shops so hard to find? Lately I've been dreaming of opening a little ice cream store in my neighborhood in Manhattan, where you could get a decent scoop (not a huge size) in a tasty homemade cone, and you could also get sundaes and shakes and malteds. I guess in the meantime, I'll make my own, and hope a Cold Stone doesn't open in my area any time soon.