One of the best things about summer is what’s in the freezer. And regardless of personal preference as to flavor, topping or form (soft serve, hard or milkshake), just about everyone can find common ground in ice cream.
Sean and Heidi Gowden of Moosic have their favorite ice cream place.
“We go to Jitty Joes on Birney Avenue,” said Sean Gowden, who always has two youngsters, Giada and Evie, in tow. “It’s close and great stuff, but for a real treat we go to Padula’s in Dunmore. I grew up going there and think it’s the best in the area.” Gowden pointed to the creaminess of Padula’s soft serve as the draw for him.
At Manning’s Farm Dairy, “there are some people who live and die by our cookie dough,” said Jean Manning, who with her family has been making and selling ice cream since 1964, and this summer will be no exception.
Manning’s has ice cream stores in West Scranton, Dunmore, Scranton, Clarks Summit and at the family farm in North Abington Township. Every year, customers by the thousands arrive for a big scoop.
Manning’s has 75 flavors with milk that comes directly from its own cows on its Lackawanna County farm.
While the family sell yogurt,
Manning said it pales in comparison to ice cream sales.
“Most of our seasonal flavors happen in the fall — the apple pie a la mode, pumpkin and cinnamon — but we offer such a wide variety that once we start to offer new flavors, they kind of end up in the background, and we have to get back to our original 75,” said Manning, who added that anything with peanut butter is her favorite flavor.
Other popular flavors include Charlie Brownie (Manning’s make its own brownies) and vanilla.
“Our vanilla is probably the purest form you can get,” she said, because Manning’s does not use corn syrup or fructose – just pure cane sugar.
The Mannning farm is run by Jean, her husband Paul and their three sons.
Manning said January and February are quiet months for hand-dipped ice cream, but many customers still buy their products in the grocery store. When the temperature rises, their stores become magnets for ice cream lovers.
“People still love piling in the car and going for ice cream,” Manning said. “In this day and age, the dollar does not go as far, but there’s always a few bucks for ice cream. It’s family time. It’s an affordable treat.”
Tom Malinchak, owner of Main Avenue Ice Cream on Scranton’s North Main Avenue, said his dairy bar is packed with customers when the weather breaks.
“We have people that come here every night,” he said.“Sometimes they are out to the street waiting in line.” He added that he believes it’s become a social thing do.
He has been in business for 20 years and said the crowds pick up as soon as school lets out and continue to grow until the end of summer. Malinchak sells frozen yogurt, but he said vanilla soft serve is still the favorite for many.
“We know ice cream very well, and I think that’s why people keep coming back.”
If a trip to State College is in your future this summer, a stop at Penn State’s Berkey Creamery is a real treat. The creamery, as it is known to PSU folks, hand dips 750,000 cones and dishes of ice cream every year.
“Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are among the top three sellers,” said Jim Brown, interim manager of the Berkey Creamery, “but we have a lot of specialty flavors that we make on a continuous basis.”
Those flavors include WPSU Coffee Break, Russ Digs Raspberry and Cherry Quist. And if you have a hankering for Penn State’s ice cream, you can have it shipped anywhere in the continental U.S.
“It helps a lot of our alumni throughout the country,” Brown said. “It’s really afforded us the ability to get all of our ice cream to all of our alumni and our fans.”
The creamery just celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015. While it’s the largest university creamery, it’s one of the smallest ice cream manufacturers in the U.S.
It also offers a short course on how to make ice cream from cow to cone every January. Some of its popular graduates are Ben and Jerry (yes, that Ben and Jerry), Baskin Robbins and Borden.
“We’re small,” said Brown, noting that a majority of the milk comes from dairy barns on campus. The turnaround time is relatively short at about four days. “With the ingredients being fresh, it’s about quality and tradition.”