Ice Cream Tour of Connecticut: Quarantine Edition

Supporting Small Businesses During the Pandemic


Meredith Swanson, Section Editor

I would say that I consider myself an ice cream enthusiast. I cannot imagine a summer without the taste of a local creamery, but ice cream reliably brings up my spirits in any season. My mom and I have always dreamed of doing an “ice cream tour of Connecticut” where we hit every small ice cream shop in the state over the course of a weekend. While this is perhaps not the healthiest or wisest idea, it always seemed super fun and I still hoped to do it one day. 

Since the pandemic hit, it has become really important to focus on the bonds between family members and appreciate the small joys that we can have in this time. My mom and I decided it was time to make it our mission to try every small ice cream shop in Connecticut in close succession, once and for all. 

Initially, we were just grabbing a cold treat, but as quarantine droned on, I started becoming more and more excited to go to the next ice cream shop. We are about halfway through the list, and I have to say I am overall very impressed with the quality of ice cream available so close to my house. 

This may be controversial, but a good test to see if a shop’s ice cream will be delicious is to look at their pistachio flavor. In general, good local ice cream shops will have white pistachio and mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Any shop with unnaturally green ice cream fails the test. My favorite ice cream shops so far have all passed.

The different shops we have been to so far, including Grass Roots in Granby (twice!), Arethusa in Litchfield, both J. Foster locations, and Tulmeadow Farms in Simsbury, have all adapted differently to our current reality. While some stores are only offering curbside pickup of pints or quarts (as is the case for Arethusa and Tulmeadow), others, like J. Foster, continue to serve cones as normal as long as customers wear masks and social distance. 

Although I appreciate the shops continuing to provide service through this time, the pints-only model can be a little dangerous-last week we had 7 pints of ice cream in our freezer at once.

One of the things that I love the most about local ice cream shops is the variety of funky and tasty flavors the stores come up with themselves: Grass Roots’ creativity in particular never fails to impress. During this time, some shops have elected to offer a limited selection of traditional flavors, providing simple excellence. Grass Roots, though, is staying weird and continuing to concoct innovative flavors if you’re ever bored and want a pleasant surprise.

This experience has also been a prime example of quarantine bringing us closer to our families, even as we are separated from the rest of the world. The ice cream tour has been rather Gilmore Girls-esque, and I am so grateful to have these fun times with my mom before I become an “adult” in only 10 short months.

I know that ice cream may not be the most “essential” of essential businesses, but frequenting these small businesses has made my quarantine brighter and I am happy to know that my business will help these shops stay open so they can continue bringing joy, even once the pandemic is behind us.