I agree that the rise of new mix-in ice cream chains is curious, especially since the Boston area has had some purveyor of the concept since 1973.
The original (at least in this area) was Steve’s Ice Cream in Somerville. Not exactly in a hip neighborhood (at the time) or particularly close to transportation, but had a line practically every night. Ice cream was actually made in small batches in old fashioned tub churns in the front window so flavors changed rapidly. Hot fudge was made in Hobart mixers you could see while in line: butter, chocolate, sugar, pure heaven. Mixins were the primary draw.
Around 1977, Steve Herrel sold the shop and the concept and took some time off, but then returned to the business in 1980 in Northampton with Herrel’s. The new owners of Steve’s did the expansion thing and had a grocery-store product for a while, but they seem to have slipped out of sight. Herrel’s is still around, has a few shops in Massachusetts, and I think still uses the term "smoosh-in" because he sold the "mix-in" concept.
The rise of the Coldstone Creameries got me laughing as this "new" chain is basically a copy of a place I used to go to in the Stratford Square mall (far west Chicago suburbs) in the early 80s. Ice Cream Ira’s was on the mezzanine level, above the Food Court proper but below the upper level with the main cinemas.
The front counter had a glass-front showing the available mixin’s. Waffle cones were on hand, as were more mundane containers. And the counter was a long slab of white marble.
The choice of ice cream— vanilla. But you were there for the mixin’s anyway.
The fare was a bit pricey and I was in a major cash crunch at the time so I didn’t eat there much. But what I recall was that the fare was quite good and certainly original.
Marble Slab Creamery started a year or so later, but far south of Illinois (Texas, actually) I’m guessing there was something in the Cosmic Ice Cream Continuum that was calling forth the joining of marble and ice cream across the world…..
Ice Cream Ira’s Mixin’ Magic
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