7 Great Ice Cream Spots That Originated in the Midwest
You're never far from great ice cream in the Midwest. Some of America's best ice cream shops actually originated in the region, which isn't surprising, given the Midwest's vast dairy farmland; Wisconsin is one of the top milk producers in the country, after all. With innovative flavors, fun mix-ins and downright delicious scoops, these seven shops shine in the Midwest and beyond.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Started in Columbus, Ohio
With rich flavors like cherries and goat cheese (sourced from Ohio's goats), Savannah buttermint and salty caramel starring sea salt and grass-grazed Ohio milk, Jeni Britton Bauer reigns as queen of ice cream while remaining true to her Midwestern roots. The shop's HQ has been in Columbus since 2002, when the operation began, but you'll find her scoop shops in cities all around the country.
Related: Top Things to Do in Columbus, Ohio
Started in Petoskey, Michigan
Kilwins originated in Petoskey in 1947 and is still headquartered there today, serving fresh fudge, delicious chocolates and ice cream. Kilwins pops up in tourist-driven towns across the country, but they stay true to their home state roots. Try the Mackinac Island fudge ice cream with chunks of fudge, or Traverse City cherry, a nod to the town known as the Cherry Capital of the World (as well as a Petoskey neighbor!).
Started in Cincinnati
Graeter's shops made a name for themselves by serving small-batch ice creams in French pots. Instead of traditional chocolate chips, many of their signature flavors are studded with gourmet chocolate chunks. Don't miss the black cherry chip or Buckeye, a chocolate-peanut butter homage to the state tree, from this fourth-generation family business.
Started in Bottineau, North Dakota
Today, a single brick-and-mortar scoop shop exists for Pride Dairy, but their ice cream fills freezers across the Dakotas and Minnesota. If you visit the shop, don't miss the Cow Pies—chocolate-covered ice cream patties in flavors like rhubarb and s'mores on a stick. You can also sample Pride Dairy's rich Thomas Jefferson Vintage Vanilla Ice Cream during a trip to Mount Rushmore.
Related: 20 Things to Do in South Dakota
Started in North Aurora, Illinois
If you're going to get into the dairy business, you may as well get into the ice cream business, too —and that's precisely what Oberweis did in Aurora back in the 1950s. Today you'll find Oberweis milk and ice cream at stores across the Midwest, plus shops using their premium goods to make delectable scoops of butter pecan and chocolate chip ice cream. Or in select areas, sign up for a weekly home delivery of Oberweis dairy products, including ice cream, just like the good old days.
Kopp's Frozen Custard
Started in Milwaukee
Although there are only three Kopp's locations in Wisconsin, it played a major role in what has become the state's quintessential summer treat: frozen custard. The stand started in the 1950s, experimenting with various flavors of the day, and has since concocted tasty custard creations like banana walnut chocolate chunk, maple syrup and pancakes, and orange dream. If you can't get to Milwaukee, they'll ship pints anywhere in the continental U.S.
Started in Joliet, Illinois; headquartered in Minneapolis
In summer, a Blizzard is about as ubiquitous as a float trip along the Midwest's waterways. The first Dairy Queen restaurant opened in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940, and today the company is based in Minneapolis. Around the world, find Dilly bars, dipped cones and other ice cream treats that got their start in America's heartland.