On July 9, 1984, President Ronald Reagan officially designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day, stating, “I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
Well, if you insist, Mr. President.
Following strict orders from the former commander-in-chief, the copy team recently struck out on a soft-serve crawl of lower Manhattan. Why soft serve? It’s twice as lickable as normal ice cream, comes in a pleasing swirly shape and is apparently trending. There’s also a convenience factor. As one team member noted, “You can consume it much faster—and the toppings tend to stay put.”
On a recent blisteringly-hot Friday afternoon, the team took a stroll to seven of downtown New York City’s best soft serve shops. Here is the review.
Stop one: McDonalds
Filled with an unimaginable amount of excitement, we walked up to the counter, looked at the menu and saw exactly zero ice cream options. Is this a joke? Nope. Epic fail.
We weren’t lovin’ it®.
Stop two: Victory Garden
The goat’s milk soft serve was delicious—and especially creamy. We tried a handful of flavors, but the Tangy Goat Milk with dried mulberries was a clear favorite. Also recommended: Chocolate Rosemary and Salted Caramel.
Bonus: The employees were incredibly nice, and a World Cup game was showing on TV.
Stop three: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Here we ordered two sundae varieties: a Mermaid (vanilla soft serve, key lime curd, crushed graham crackers, whipped cream) and a Salty Pimp (vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche, sea salt, chocolate dip). The Salty Pimp contained seductive veins of dulce de leche. “I was worried the Salty Pimp would remind me of licking a man’s skin, due to the name, but it did not,” observed one team member.
The Mermaid was equally enchanting, with its ripples of tangy lime curd. “Curd” is such a gross word for what it is.
Stop four: Dairy Queen
As lunchtime hit, we decided to consolidate our dietary efforts into one meal. One copy team member (a Florida native) swore by the Chicken Strip Basket, so we sprang for the combo.
The Mini Mint OREO® Blizzard® was the sweetest treat of the day. After dipping a French fry into the Blizzard, one copy team member explained that, “It had potential, but the mint was a little jarring with the potato.” Surprisingly, our Blizzard® had absolutely zero odor. (Any scientists out there who can tell us why?)
Fun fact #1: The first brain freeze of the outing occurred here.
Fun fact #2: DQ founder J.F. McCullough and his son, Alex, claim to have invented soft serve in the mid 1930s.
Stop five: Off The Wall Yogurt
Just as our bellies were starting to show and our pants were “mysteriously” beginning to unbutton, one copy team member pulled an audible and pulled the team into Off the Wall. Although not previously on our itinerary, this stop provided us with an invaluable learning experience: always squat when dealing with self-serve yogurt.
Stop six: Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.
A slight hesitation filled the air as we walked into Chloe’s. “I don’t know if I can get excited about fruit in a bowl,” admitted one team member.
We couldn’t have been more wrong about this sleeper hit. A tropical concoction of mango, pineapple, berries, and coconut shavings proved to us that fruit can be delightful on its own.
The shop’s soundtrack of mid-era Ashlee Simpson songs (yes!) and XL-sized cups of free ice water sweetened the deal.
Stop seven: Momofuku Milk Bar
At this point, we were feeling a uncomfortable and queasy. One team member had jam on her leg. A slurry of fruit, heavy cream, milk, chocolate, and flavoring agents sloshed against our stomach walls as we waddled up to the counter.
We ordered the classic: Cereal Milk™ soft serve with crunch. It was very tasty (and salty!), but we were unfortunately forced to retire our spoons after a few dozen bites. We had reached our limit.