For the past week and a half I was on the mainland visiting family, a trip that was at once wonderful and served to confirm two enormous truths in my life. First, after four-plus years in Hawaii, I am no longer cut out for the cold. (My first day after arriving Podge and I were walking downtown Chicago right along Lakeshore Drive…you can imagine how my non-acclimated body took that)

Second, I have an other-worldly affinity for ice cream. Seriously, it’s the stuff of legend. Even in the sub-Arctic weather I was enduring I managed to make it out at least once a day, throwing it down in heaping amounts.

The point? After having lived all over the country, I have become something of a connoisseur when it comes to everyone’s favorite dairy treat. As such, I figured I would dust off a gimmick I haven’t employed in some time and offer my rankings for the best cream in the country.

(I am aware that most folks cling vociferously to their local favorites…bear in mind these are just my own subjective thoughts)

The rules on this are pretty simple, consisting mainly of this only being ice cream establishments. I love Breyer’s as much as the next fella, but they don’t count here. Also, as much as some folks like TCBY, I can’t count frozen yogurt. It just tastes like flavored ice to me. Apologies….

Now…in descending order…

10.) McDonald’s/Wendy’s

I am not a fast food eater these days, but I will stop in for their respective ice creams. Nothing fantastic, but will definitely satisfy a craving in a pinch.

9.) United Dairy Farmer’s

A Midwestern staple, this is the place to go if you prefer exclusively hand-dipped cream.

8.) Wilcoxen’s

This one I had never heard of prior to Montana, but imagine UDF on steroids.

7.) Big Dipper

Another Montana favorite…some people swear by it, I’m more luke warm. Their creativity w/ flavors is sometimes fantastic, but the accompanying price hike can be a bit much.

6.) Baskin Robbins

Standard, reliable, always give free samples. Won’t knock your socks off, but gets the job done.

5.) Ben & Jerry’s

Now we’re getting into the meat of the lineup, something I had never experienced until Boston and didn’t truly appreciate until visiting their factory. Wow…

4.) Tillamook

Another that gets a huge bump courtesy of their fantastic factory experience. Just stepping out of the car the smell of fresh waffle cones envelopes you.

3.) Friendly’s

Go in and ask for either the banana split or hot fudge sundae. If you’re craving the basics, nobody does it better.

2.) Dairy Queen

As recently as nine months ago, giving the DQ Blizzard anything short of the top spot would have been blasphemy. That my friends was before I discovered…

1.) Culver’s Frozen Custard

The holy grail of all frozen desserts. I’m serious. Go get yourself a Concrete Mixer, fill it w/ toppings, and listen as angels serenade you w/ each wonderful bite…

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