10 best oddball ice cream flavors in the Twin Cities
An elderly man is sitting with his granddaughters at Scoops Ice Cream & More in Bloomington, Minnesota.
"When I was your age, we only had two ice cream flavors -- chocolate and vanilla," he begins. His granddaughters remain focused on their complex ice cream concoctions, clearly unfazed by another of their grandfather's "back in the day" stories.
"But I always got strawberry!" he finishes, chuckling to himself as his granddaughters halfway attempt to decipher his punchline, but stay focused on their cones.
The flavors may have been few in grandpa's time, but travel even further back in the history of our favorite frozen treat, and you'll find flavor combinations that surpass even the strangest we see in ice cream parlors today. There were no chocolate milkshakes, Neapolitan cones, or pints of Chubby Hubby. Instead, there was rose water, saffron, dried fruits, nectar, honey, and nuts.
After ice cream was introduced to the States in the 1700s, ice cream-making methods and flavors stabilized, and chocolate and vanilla became the standards. But in recent years, we've witnessed a resurgence of inspired ice cream flavors. Some flavors -- like blood, pizza, and smoked salmon -- are made more for the novelty factor, while others probably just sounded damn good to their creators.
We've gathered up our 10 favorite experimental ice cream flavors from around the Twin Cities for your end-of-summer eating pleasure.
Emily Eveland Red bean pictured on top
10. Red bean - Izzy's Ice Cream
Izzy's is well-known as one of the Twin Cities' top local ice cream shops. Their Minneapolis and St. Paul locations currently offer a rotating list of 150 flavors, using local ingredients like Wild Country maple syrup and Summit Oatmeal Stout whenever they can.
Though Izzy's often sticks to high-quality standard flavors, they occasionally unveil intriguing flavors like red bean, number 10 on our list. Red bean ice cream is made from azuki bean paste and is served throughout Japan. It has a slightly chalky consistency and isn't as sweet as consumers are used to, but if you're in the mood for something different, Izzy's red bean ice cream is a worthwhile challenge for the taste buds.
9. White licorice - Sebastian Joe's
We're not sure how Sebastian Joe's managed to make a non-hurl-worthy licorice ice cream, but we've learned not to question the ice cream mavens. The white licorice flavor, made with freshly ground anise, is light and creamy, leaning more toward a white chocolate blend with a licorice twist. We tried ours at Scoops Ice Cream in Bloomington, which offers a variety of ice cream flavors from Sebastian Joe's, Kemps, Edy's, and Cedar Crest.
8. Grey Duck Chai nine-spice rice milk gelato - Jackson's Coffee & Gelato
This one goes out to all you dairy-free folks in the Twin Cities. Jackson's Coffee & Gelato brings in a local gelato whiz a few times per week to make specialty gelato flavors, like Nutella and peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in the back of the shop.
Jackson's recently started implementing rice milk in a number of its gelatos, including the mulberry and the nine-spice rice milk blend that uses chai from Minnesota's Grey Duck Chai. The rice milk lends a lighter quality that pairs well with the strong, spicy Chai taste.
7. Basil - Izzy's Ice Cream
We struggled to decide between Izzy's basil ice cream and Sebastian Joe's orange-basil sorbet, but ultimately, this is about ice cream. Don't be afraid of basil. Though it seems counter-intuitive to put a generally savory herb in a milky cold treat, it works. It's creamy, lightly sweet, and bursting with garden-fresh flavor.