Two Sundays ago I arrived in Fort Collins to 97-degree weather. Too hot to feel like eating much, so I took on the chowhounding assignment for National Ice Cream Month to check out some of the local shops.
In a shopping center near my hotel, Pioneer Candies and Ice Cream offers two dozen housemade ice creams daily. The two counter staff were bubbly young women with dazzling smiles. The style of ice cream is quite soft, light and almost fluffy in texture. Kept at warmer temps, the ice cream is scooped up in curls and well-aerated. Only one flavor is allowed for a single scoop.
Since this is a mostly a candy store, I was interested in trying the Turtle and Caramel Java Chip flavors and found both sweet as candy and didn’t want more than a taste. My sever’s favorite flavor, Oreo Cheesecake, featured cubes of cheesecake along with bits of Oreos for those who like chunky mix-ins. Stormy Night was a swirled concoction, a blend suggested by a local student. I ended up with a single scoop of Huckleberry, mostly because it had some balancing acidity and was not as sugary as the rest. Still, I ended up dumping most of it, since it didn’t really grab me and I had more ahead of me.
For the road, I’d ordered a strawberry lemonade, which turned out to be fresh squeezed lemonade with a shot of Torani strawberry syrup over ice. Again, so sickly sweet. I returned it and the juice of another lemon was added to try to overcome the sugar load.
My next stop was Kilwins Fort Collins, the Michigan import, in Old Town. The young man who waited on me was most enthusiastic when I explained this was my first time in Fort Collins and to a Kilwins store. He explained that this is the only Kilwins in the West and that the brand is very big in Florida as well as Michigan. I loved everything he selected for me to sample, and he would have been happy to let me keep tasting flavors. The ice creams are kept colder than Pioneers and were much denser. Cake Batter, Blueberry Waffle Cone, and especially the Toasted Coconut ice cream were all great with intense flavors and a taste profile not dominated by sugar. Two flavors in a single scoop size is no problem . . . he said he could do that for a kiddie scoop too . . . and Kilwins Track and Strawberry Chunk won my order. Kilwins Track is made with peanut butter truffles, fudge-y bits in a rich vanilla base and the Strawberry Chunk was loaded with fruit in a strawberry and cream style. I also appreciated the clean, non-gummy finish to the ice cream here.
I saw the scale on the counter and asked my guy to weigh my single scoop. It was over seven ounces! He said that five ounces is the minimum.
On the way out, I took a closer look at Kilwins in-store caramel apple production . . . and grabbed a free sample available for tasting.
After a forgettable dinner in Old Town, I looked at the nearby Walrus Ice Cream but the line was out the door. So I headed over the shopping mall location which serves a more limited number of flavors. I tried a sample of the Black Raspberry and found it too sweet and lacking the bright tartness of raspberry. Sold by the ounce, I opted for the smallest serving possible of Mandarin Orange Cream and Butter Pecan. The Mandarin Orange Cream tasted like the dreamsicle of yore, but better, and the Butter Pecan had mostly dust and broken bits of pecan and not enough butteriness.
All in all, I’d skip Pioneer, give Walrus another shot, and will definitely seek out Kilwins anywhere I can find a store. What are your favorites in Fort Collins?
Pioneer Candies and Ice Cream
2350 E. Harmony Rd., Suite 104, Fort Collins, CO
Kilwins Fort Collins
114 S College Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Walrus Ice Cream
140 Boardwalk Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80525