Our scoop on ice cream

Herald-Mail staffers choose their favorites

Herald-Mail staffers choose their favorites

August 14, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

Ah, ice cream.

Sweet, satiny, cold, satisfying.

On a hot afternoon, there is nothing - nothing - like a dish of ice cream savored all the way down to the bottom of the dish, the spoon licked.

But how do you know which ice cream is the best? Or where to get it?

The assignment was daunting.

But four Herald-Mail staffers - page designer Kim Bain, graphic artist Ryan Harpster, classified advertising rep Robin Straley and I - accepted the challenge.

We were to determine what establishment had the best ice cream in Washington County. But we settled on tasting the products of only five emporiums:

  • Superior Ice Cream & Snack Bar - known to many as Superior Dairy -at 500 Chestnut St. in Hagerstown

  • Big Dipper Ice Cream Parlor, 1033 Virginia Ave., in Hagerstown

  • Nutter's Ice Cream, 100 E. Main St., Sharpsburg

  • Antietam Dairy, National Pike, Clear Spring

  • Olympia Candy Kitchen, 13154 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown

Yes, we'll go to almost any lengths, sacrificing waistlines, work and sanity - yes, sanity - for you, our readers. We endured moments of extreme pressure as we tried to recall how the texture of the cold, sweet chocolate stuff at our last stop compared to the feel of what was in our mouths at the moment.

We sampled three of the same flavors at all five businesses: vanilla, chocolate and peach, since it's the season.

We also wanted to taste a specialty flavor. We chose Cappuccino Crunch, a coffee-with-toffee-bits ice cream at Superior, our first stop. So we chose a coffee or coffee-something ice cream at the remaining four establishments.

We bought single scoops of each flavor at each shop.

Prices varied a bit:

- $1.09 for a generous serving of Kemp's brand ice cream at Nutter's;

- $1.30 for a smaller-than-some but fair portion at Olympia, homemade at their Chambersburg, Pa., location;

- $1.42 for a smaller-than-some serving of Antietam Dairy's ice cream, homemade in the Waynesboro, Pa., store;

- $1.49 for a big serving of Hershey brand ice cream at Big Dipper;

- and $1.49 for an adequate serving of Superior's ice cream made at a secret location in Pennsylvania.

The timing was perfect: a Friday afternoon in the middle of a heat wave. We were serious about our work, sometimes needing to taste a second - even a third time - to make sure our judgment was accurate.

Each of us awarded one point for good, two for better and three for best in three categories: taste, texture and appearance. Then we averaged our scores for the final number.

Of 20 ice creams reviewed by four tasters, only one zero - for "don't bother" - was given in the appearance category. The taster just didn't like the way it looked. But hey, it was at our last stop and, to tell you the truth, we all had about had our fill of ice cream.

What flavor would we choose if we were to walk in an ice cream parlor - just for our own personal pleasure?

  • Bain would get cookie dough ice cream;

  • Harpster, peanut butter ripple;

  • Straley, chocolate - "every time."

I would choose a single dip of coffee ice cream in a sugar cone, as I have since I walked to Falvo's store in Long Branch, N.J., when I was a kid.

So what's the best ice cream?

- Superior's Cappuccino Crunch and Big Dipper's Cappuccino Crunch with Fudge Swirl tied for best appearance.

- Superior's peach tied with Nutter's vanilla for best texture.

- Nutter's chocolate edged out Antietam Dairy's vanilla and Olympia Candy Kitchen's chocolate for best taste.

There is some subjectivity and personal preference in every rating, of course.

Bain and Straley don't like coffee. "Period," Straley says. Despite that, she called Superior's Cappuccino Crunch "pretty" and gave it a 3 for taste.

Go figure.

Hey, maybe we'll have to try this again - just to check the accuracy of the survey and see if the results of the study will be duplicated.

The Herald-Mail Articles