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Get the Scoop

Check out the scoop on 13 local frozen favorites!

Any self-respecting ice cream aficionado will declare that a scoop (or two) of a favorite flavor, with or without a smooth hot fudge sauce and real whipped cream, hits the spot at any time of year. Summer, though, remains the golden age for the frozen treat.

That’s when the faithful happily wait in line to order the frozen dessert of their dreams. Joining the crowds, meeting the neighbors and wiping up the drips of a rapidly melting cone are all part of the summer ritual.

At this time of year, Greater Hartford’s ice cream emporiums are fielding peak numbers of customers. Some of these shops are conveniently located in town centers, while more rural spots, often on a farm, become a destination for families seeking a weeknight outing.

Although the variety of specialty flavors has exploded, vanilla continues to top the list of America’s favorite ice cream, according to the International Ice Cream Association, which monitors sales figures. Claiming the remaining spots in the top five are chocolate, cookies ‘n’ cream, strawberry and mint chocolate chip.

President Ronald Reagan elevated ice cream to holiday status in 1984 when he proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day. In his proclamation, he urged Americans “to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

What could be more appropriate than a double-decker cone or a banana split sundae? These shops, most of which offer all varieties from pure dairy ice cream to special diet formulas, provide the means for a proper toast to the holiday month.

Shady Glen

EST. 1948

If you’ve ever referred to Shady Glen as an American Classic, you’re in good company. In May, owners William and Annette Hoch traveled to New York City to receive an America’s Classic Award from the James Beard Foundation. Shady Glen is a throwback to the 1950s, right down to the original décor, old-fashioned uniforms and paper hats. Sometimes, what’s difficult is deciding which of its specialties is more famous: the ice cream or the burgers whose melted cheese topping turns into crispy wings around the edges of the patty. Open year round, Shady Glen makes the most of the seasons, especially during the summer when locally grown fruit such as berries and peaches flavor the ice cream or top sundaes. Year-round honors go to classic vanilla and runner-up chocolate chip. Shady Glen’s chocolate chip is unique, its tiny chips bursting throughout the vanilla ice cream courtesy of a special process. 840 East Middle Turnpike, Manchester, 860-649-4245; 360 West Middle Turnpike, 860-643-0511

Robb’s Farm Ice Cream

EST. 2001

Baseball, farm animals and ice cream, oh my! This family-run operation on the grounds of a working livestock farm becomes a neighborhood meeting place in the summer. Little League teams use the baseball field for free, while the Robb family’s menagerie—baby goats, pot-bellied pigs, donkeys, cows and an emu— draw kids to the pastures. Karen and Bob Robb started the ice cream shop in 2001 and have been making their own flavors since 2005. Among the most popular choices are the ones with the funky farm-inspired names: Dirty Barn Shoes is chocolate ice cream with fudge and crushed cookies; Goat Tracks blends peanut butter swirl, chocolate chips and mini peanut butter cups in vanilla ice cream. Sundaes and milk shakes can be made with any one of the 25 to 35 flavors usually available, and pints and quarts are packed to take home. 91 Wassuc Road, South Glastonbury, 860-657- 8235,

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