The sun is sweltering, you are sweating even sitting in the shade, and it is really too hot to do anything but dunk your head in a large body of water, or lie in front of your air-conditioning unit. Whatever you do, it is absolutely necessary that you top it off with a few scoops of cold, creamy, sweet deliciousness. Welcome to summer, and welcome to our first installment of:
We All Scream for Ice-Cream!!!
This is an on-going series of reviews of local ice-cream (including fro-yo and gelato) made and sold on the North Shore. We will selflessly taste as many flavors as possible at as many places as possible and provide you with our opinions and reviews so you can make an informed decision about your ice-cream choices. (We understand that you are touched by our sacrifice. It’s nothing. Really.)
So here goes: First off, a Fro-Yo showdown!
Contact info: 76 Lafayette St, Suite 100, Salem, MA 01970, 978-741-3200
Open Hours: Sun – Thurs 11AM – 10PM, Fri – Sat 11AM – 11PM
Accessibility: I couldn’t find any ramp, so it was a bit tricky to get my stroller up the 4 or 5 stairs to the entrance. But we managed! UPDATE: There is a ramp in the back folks!
First Impression: A clean, hip, and modern franchise, with decor of vibrant orange and white. It’s usually got a busy crowd with a lot of social energy. This is self-serve frozen yoghurt that you pay for by the ounce, creating more of a sense of freedom and control over the amount of flavor and sugar. Because this is a franchise, the fro-yo is not handmade. But what you lose in company craftsmanship, you gain back in personal creativity and individuality.
Diversity of Flavors: On Orange Leaf website, they list 67 flavors, with the option of 36 possible toppings to choose from. However, the Salem location only has about 12 or 14 flavors available at a time. Flavors I have seen so far include banana, peanut butter, pomegranate, mango, cookies & cream, wedding cake, strawberry, and coconut. They also have a tart flavor which tastes pretty much like plain yoghurt. You can also swirl certain flavors together (peanut butter and banana anyone?) Sadly my favorite flavor, mint, was nowhere to be seen.
As far as toppings, they range from more healthy options like fresh berries, boba and nuts, to rainbow sprinkles, Heath Bar crunch and caramel fudge.
Quality of Flavor: Flavors of the frozen yoghurt were not as concentrated as some of the ice-creams I’ve tasted, but they were subtly accurate. For example, wedding cake really does taste like a white cake. I think the idea is that you add intensity of flavor by adding toppings, and since you pay by weight, the only limit to flavor is what’s in your wallet.
Creaminess: This is frozen yoghurt, it is just not going to achieve the same kind of creaminess as ice-cream. That being said, some flavors (cookies and cream, coconut) are more creamy than others (regular chocolate surprisingly not as creamy, as well as plain frozen yoghurt-tart, and wedding cake)
Texture: Soft serve, smooth, nice consistency. Melts fast, so eat quickly!
Bang for Your Buck: Paying by the ounce is not always the cheapest option, since it is easy to get carried away and rack up a $6 cup of frozen yoghurt. Be careful of the heavy weight toppings! Also, remember that you can always taste test the flavors for free instead of adding “just a little taste” to your cup. Last time I went I wanted to “taste test” about 5 flavors, and paid about $4.50 for a cup and a half of frozen yoghurt with toppings.
Final Impression: Definitely worth going. This place if for those who want more control over their fro-yo, and don’t mind paying a little bit more for the privilege. They have a pretty diverse selection of toppings and occasionally change some of their flavors to keep things interesting.
Kushco, Frozen Yoghurt
128 Washington Street Salem, Massachusetts 01970, (978) 745-6996
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Accessibility: There is a ramp as well as high-chairs provided.
First Impression: Chill, and subdued, with friendly and welcoming staff. This is a great fro-yo alternative if you find Orange Leaf a bit over-stimulating, and like supporting local businesses with hand-flavored frozen yoghurt.
Diversity of Flavors: Like Orange Leaf, you pick the flavor base: Vanilla, chocolate, tofu, or no-sugar-added. Then you pick your “Mix-In”: a selection of 40 toppings ranging from fruits to cookies to candy bars to nuts. They even have a cheesecake option. You can mix in as many selections as you want (each Mix-In costs 25 0r 50 cents), allowing for a wide-variety of flavor combinations.
Quality of Flavor: Because the “toppings” are actually mixed in by hand on the spot, there is an freshness and uniqueness to the flavors. I ordered a vanilla base with mango and raspberry. The flavor was subtle and evenly distributed. Chunks of the fruit added bursts of flavor. I do wish the flavor could have been a bit bolder, but perhaps I needed to add more toppings.
Creaminess: I could definitely tell it was frozen yoghurt. But I don’t see that as a bad thing.
Texture: This is hard-serve fro-yo with firm consistency almost like hard ice-cream. The mixed-in toppings add a chunky texture as well. A lot of it depends on the toppings you add of course. Takes a while to melt
Bang for Your Buck: I ordered the small for $2 plus with two toppings for under a dollar, I paid less than $3 for what looked like the equivalent of two big scoops of ice-cream. Not bad at all!
Final Impression: If you like a more local, quiet ambiance and hand-made, hand-mixed flavors, this place is for you. If Orange Leaf is the sociable energetic cheerleader, then Kushco is the introverted thoughtful sister (I think they actually balance each other out nicely). Also, if you are still hungry after your fro-yo, you could even choose from their wide selection of sandwiches, pizzas, paninis or salads.
Now, onto ice-cream!
Contact Info: 86 Andover St Peabody, MA 01960, (978) 548-6012
Open Hours:Sun – Fri, noon – 10pm; Sat, noon – 11pm
(no website found)
Accessibility: Wheelchair and stroller accessible, but watch your children, since this is right on the edge of the busy Route 114 near Highway 128.
First Impression: A cute and eclectic style with flower pots and artsy decorations on the wall. Welcoming except for the odd fact that, even thought it was blistering hot, I was the only one there the entire time I was eating my ice-cream. Where was everyone else?
Diversity of Flavors: I counted 29 flavors, which include all the popular ones. I had the Almond Joy and mint chocolate chip.
Quality of Flavor: The flavor was delicious at first, but for some reason, the more that I ate there seemed to be an after-taste that interfered with my enjoyment. I had to force myself to finish it. It was something that tasted…processed or a sugar free substitute? I am not sure, and want to go back and try some other flavors to see if this was a fluke or not.
Creaminess: Classic creaminess, not super creamy, but creamier than frozen yoghurt.
Texture: Softer than some other ice-creams.
Bang for Your Buck: Their kiddie size is 2 scoops for $3.25, and the size was maybe smaller than some other places. Honestly, I like smaller sizes (hey I am trying not to gain 15 pounds by the end of these reviews!), but the price is a bit more expensive to comparable Treadwell’s just down the street (is this why the place was empty of customers?)
Final Impression: This place has one of the better decors of the ice-cream shops I’ve visited. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much else that helps it stand out over other places in the area. It does offer other handmade pastries and candies which may make it more attractive. But for ice-cream, I would probably skip it over for Treadwell’s down the street. A shame since I hear Chandler’s still makes their ice-cream on site, while Treadwell’s doesn’t any more.
Contact info: 46 Margin Street Peabody, MA 01960, (978) 531-7010
Monday-Saturday 10am-10pm Sunday 11am-10pm
Accessibility: This is a one story building right off of Route 114, with a parking lot and a small group of picnic tables in the back. It’s not the best for young children since there is not a lot of green space to run around, and the shop is pretty much surrounded by concrete, so plan accordingly.
First Impression: A popular, no-nonsense family run operation that is open year-round, and never stops pumping out delicious, creamy, flavor-packed home-made ice-cream. Their ginger ice-cream is to die for.
Diversity of Flavors: I counted 45 flavors, 4 of which (such as the pumpkin and eggnog), are seasonal. I also saw some uncommon flavors, such as ginger, raspberry truffle and frozen pudding. I had the ginger and loved it. Still, there is nothing too wild and crazy in terms of flavors, it’s how they translate those flavors in the kitchen that is the most important.
Quality of Flavor: I got peanut-butter cup and ginger. The peanut butter cup was creamy chocolate ice-cream with peanut butter swirls inside along with some chocolate pieces. The ginger flavor contained chunks of candied ginger that gave it the home-made stamp of approval.
Creaminess: Veeery CREAMY! This ice-cream oozes creamy goodness.
Texture: Firm but not too hard you can’t put your spoon through it. Chunks of whatever flavor I ordered swirled around my spoon.
Bang for Your Buck: Ok, these portions are huge. There sizing is a little different from the norm: Kiddie is “1.5” scoops for $2.95. The small is 2.5 for $3.75 and the large is 3.5 scoops for $4.50. But honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between 1.5 scoops and 2. And why call it kiddie size? Their kiddie size could feed about 4 kiddies!
Final Impression: Every time I pass by Treadwell’s there seems to be a line, and there is a reason: the ice-cream is cheap, but the flavor is rich and creamy. This is pretty much a North Shore landmark with one focus: ice-cream. If you are looking for ambiance, relaxation, or a place to eat lunch, you might want to go elsewhere. But if your sole focus is creamy frozen goodness, stop here.
For another great review of Treadwell’s, see HERE.
Cherry Hill Creamery
Contact Info: 210 Conant Street Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 774-0519
Open Hours: 11am-10pm everyday
Accessibility: Lots of space to get around with a stroller or wheelchair. Not much green around though, but the picnic table have a fence around them to keep the kiddies from running into the spacious parking lot.
First Impression: Classic ice-cream shop with picnic tables and umbrellas where you can sit and enjoy your treat.
Diversity of Flavors: I counted 35 flavors (the regulars plus ginger (yum!), and others like banana, kahlua chip, grapenut, and their signature purple cow), as well as 5 extra flavors under “Today’s Special” (mint oreo, wild berry crumble, coffee cookie dough, moocha tracks and reindeer tracks).
Quality of Flavor: This ice-cream is homemade on-site. The flavors are strong and vibrant, with fresh ingredients. The ginger was deliciously strong and you have to try the combination of fruity blackberry and chocolate Oreos. Yum.
Creaminess: Ok, it is definitely CREAMY and yummy, but…
Texture: …you can still detect a little roughness from the ice in the ice-cream which I don’t mind, since it adds to the hand-made quality. It’s not too much, but the ice-cream is not perfectly smooth.
Bang for Your Buck: 2 scoops = $3.65, 3 scoops = $4.15, 4 scoops = $5.15. Looks about the same size as Treadwell’s “1.5” scoops but for almost a dollar more. But with more diversity of flavors and the great location near several hiking trails and parks, it’s worth it.
Final Impression: This is a great ice-cream shop with some really unique flavors. What a great place to end a day of hiking or wandering around the several parks in the area (Proctor Farm, Endicott Park or Brooksby Farm)
So there it is. What about you? What is your favorite ice-cream on the North Shore?
Stay tuned for our next installment of ice-cream/gelato/fro-yo reviews let us know if you want us to review a place for you!
For some fun ice-cream facts, look HERE.