Summer in Mid-Missouri means scorching heat — and a perfect opportunity to enjoy some of the amazing cold treats in our community.
For many, Jefferson City is known as the home of Central Dairy, the iconic ice cream counter that opened in 1933 as part of the company’s dairy building on Madison Street. Shannon Maloney, general manager at Central Dairy, said the formula for how to make Central Dairy ice cream hasn’t changed, noting the company uses milk produced within 15-20 minutes of Jefferson City.
That consistency is what keeps people coming back. On a Thursday morning, Grace Shortal stood behind the counter. As someone pulled up, Shortal was quick to identify a daily customer, who comes by around the same time for his soda. (Central Dairy is one of the few places left with a real soda fountain.) She didn’t have to ask what he wanted — she had begun making it before he even entered the shop. A little while later, the same thing was repeated with another daily patron in for her custom soda.
“It’s nostalgic for a lot of people,” Shortal said as she began to make Central Dairy’s most notable treat on the menu, the signature banana split. The dish, a local favorite, includes sliced bananas served with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream (three scoops of each!), then smothered in chocolate sauce and marshmallow topping, finished with a sprinkle of pecans.
Shortal is a long-time employee of Central Dairy, something she said was not uncommon; most of the employees have “pretty much been here forever.” In her own time at the shop, Shortal said she has seen the joy on people’s faces when they come to the Madison Street spot.
“The children just love it,” she said, noting how many field trips include a stop at Central Dairy. “This is the highlight of their visit.”
Just down the street from Central Dairy, a new place opened its doors earlier this year and has quickly become a favored spot for many. Ice Cream Factory saw lines out the door for the first few weekends after opening, said store manager Sarah Light.
Based in Eldon, Shannon and Katie Imler opened the main store just last year and have already seen incredible growth. In
addition to the shops in Eldon, where all the ice cream is made, and Jefferson City, Ice Cream Factory products can be found in stores across Central Missouri.
It’s the extra creamy flavor that makes it special, Light said, noting their products, all created by hand, have 14 percent butter fat compared to the average 10-11 percent found in most ice cream. She pointed to one of the shop’s most popular flavors, gooey butter cake, as an example of the care put in to making the products. Actual cakes are made and used in the ice cream to ensure the very best flavor, she said.
“We really go above and beyond, and put our hearts into it,” Light said. “We’re really dedicated to creating a pleasant experience.”
If you’ve got an idea for a flavor, don’t hesitate to share it. Light said the company is open to requests, noting all you have to do is send a simple Facebook message.
In honor of all things sweet and cold, HER Magazine is delighted to bring you a guide to the best local treats you can find.
Remember, this is far from an exhaustive list of every place that serves cold treats. We opted to stay within Jefferson City, but there are so many other places worth checking out, like Ice Cream 4 Ice Cream in Eugene and Mellby’s Chill Zone in Holts Summit. Is your favorite on the list? Let us know in the comments!
610 Madison St.
With more than 40 flavors in addition to their other treats, like the notable banana split, there’s something for everyone at this Jefferson City favorite. Besides the banana split, Moose Tracks is one of their No. 1 sellers. Learn more at centraldairy.biz.
COLD STONE CREAMERY
610 Wildwood Drive
A staple in many communities, Cold Stone is known for its fresh ice cream, made on site, that is then blended with whatever toppings you choose right in front of you on a frozen granite stone before being served in a cone, bowl or cup. The shop also offers a variety of other treats, including Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory products. Find out more at coldstonecreamery.com.
1920 Jefferson St.
This national chain is known for its fresh frozen custard. The process to make this product uses less air, resulting in a creamy, rich custard. You can also purchase pints of custard at the Jefferson City location or at culvers.com/restaurants/jefferson-city.
2114 Missouri Blvd.
You can’t talk about ice cream places and not include Dairy Queen, the place known for turning its blizzards upside down before serving them to customers. This chain often offers new flavors and treats that combine delicious candies and chocolates with their signature soft serve. Check out the latest flavors at dairyqueen.com.
2715 E. McCarty St.
Another Jefferson City favorite with a long history, Daisy Delight opened in 1955 and continues to bring smiles to customers’ faces with its variety of sweet treats (called Daisy Delights), from the lactose-free soft serve known as Dole Whip to its special four-flavor banana split delight, served in a rectangular dish. Check out more at daisy-delight.com.
1410 Missouri Blvd.
Cold, sweet treats may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this Mexican restaurant, but that just means you likely haven’t tried the homemade fried ice cream. This specialty dish is made by taking frozen scoops of ice cream, covering them in corn flakes and briefly frying them when ordered. It’s then placed in a taco salad shell/bowl with cinnamon, honey, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles. Learn more online at eljimadormexrestaurant.com.
ICE CREAM FACTORY
701 Madison St.
Offering more than 30 flavors of hand-layered ice cream, you can find unique flavors at this spot, from their signature gooey butter cake to the cobalt cookie, a blue sweet cream flavor mixed with chocolate chip and chocolate sandwich cookie pieces. But one of their top sellers is a newer flavor that came out capitalizing on the success of the Netflix documentary “Tiger King.” The flavor of the same name features cake batter ice cream with Oreo cookies and buttercream frosting. Since introducing it, Jefferson City store manager Sarah Light said they’ve gone through about 30-40 gallons of the flavor per day! Find out more at icecreamfactoryco.com.
LOVE MY GELATO
Modeling after the ice cream of Italy, gelato, this food truck offers its sweet treats at a variety of events across Mid-Missouri. Gelato is a denser version of ice cream that uses a higher proportion of milk and less cream and/or eggs. This mobile spot also offers sorbetto, which is a dairy and egg-free treat that is even denser than gelato. Flavors vary throughout the season, so be sure to check them out on Facebook for flavor listings and location updates at Facebook.com/lovemygelato.
RJ’S REAL ITALIAN ICE
For a delicious cold treat without the dairy, track down this summer food truck that offers fresh Italian ice, a treat made by combining water, sugar or honey and fresh fruit or other flavors. All of these products are made in Jefferson City and are both dairy- and gluten-free. For more information, follow them at Facebook.com/RJsRealItalianIce.
801 Missouri Blvd.
This seasonal shop offers classic shaved ice in a variety of flavors, from passion fruit to root beer. It’s not uncommon to see a crowd at the small stand on a hot summer night. See more treats available at snobiz.com.
Another popular food truck in Mid-Missouri, Twisted Whip offers dairy-free frozen treats, usually two different flavors per day. Follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/Twisted-Whip-155541805108034.
122 E. High St.
This popular self-serve frozen yogurt spot offers eight flavors that change frequently, along with over 50 available toppings. Walking inside, you’ll surely notice an abundance of tie-dye, as the business offers tie-dye parties that include frozen yogurt, tie-dying and even karaoke. Check out the latest flavors available at yoyums.com.
1730 Jefferson St.
Since 1948, this local shop has been offering soft serve ice cream, made from the aptly named Zest-O-Matic. You can find a variety of treats made from that signature soft serve, including avalanches and specialty sundaes, such as the brownie supreme, which includes a chocolate brownie, vanilla soft serve ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Check out more at zestodriveinsouth.com.