Cold Stone's ice cream inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts or as quirky as granola and black licorice. Choose your favorite ice cream from among dozens of silky flavors, such as Irish cream and butter pecan. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary between seasons and location, and they also offer sorbet and an array of lighter toppings such as fruit and honey. Ice-cream creations run between $4 and $6, depending on size.
Ben & Jerry's came from humble beginnings—in 1978, its eponymous founders served ice cream out of a renovated Burlington gas station, and delivered pints of their now-classic flavors to grocery stores out of the back of Ben's VW Squareback wagon. Today, its myriad shops dispense cups, cones, shakes, and smoothies brimming with a variety of quirky flavors, including Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, named for famous revolutionary Cherry Garcia. The duo is also famous for their social responsibility, which is evident in their community activism and in their use of fair-trade products, such as cage-free eggs and sustainable, growth-hormone-free dairy.
Borrowing its name from the eponymous double-peaked mountain, Maroon Bells of Colorado whips up its own fresh, premium ice cream, sundaes, shakes, ice cream cakes and more. Dairy diners can lick a chilly swirl of ice cream (from $1.95) in flavors such as Bell's banana pudding, blueberry cheesecake, and rocky road, before selecting a free topping to layer the creamy hill with goodies such as gummy bears and M&Ms (additional toppings $0.50/each). Savor every sugary morsel of a butterscotch toffee sundae ($4.45+), or cool esophageal flare-ups with an espresso-flavored shake ($4.35 for a small) or a Georgia peach smoothie ($4.35 for a small). Grouponers can also think of new ice cream flavors in the store's Create Our Next Flavor contest; the originators of winning flavors will get a $25 gift card, the chance to taste their creation in stores starting in July, and the tingly feeling of total dairy supremacy.