As much as the New Year is, for many people, about making resolutions and re-committing to healthy eating, for San Luis Obispo residents and visitors, it’s also apparently about ice cream.
Within just a few blocks downtown, there are at least six different shops offering handmade creations.
Some of them have been here for more than a quarter of a century and others, just a few months. So what makes ice cream so popular in San Luis Obispo?
The latest shop to move in downtown is McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.
“Everything on our labels you can read clearly what it is, what’s stated, what’s on there,” explained Trevor Weiger of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. “It’s not like a lot of ice creams that you get at the grocery store where it’s got all this nitrate craziness on there.”
While McConnell’s is the new kid on the block, at least in San Luis Obispo, Cowboy Cookie and Ice Cream has been serving up locally produced sweets for 30 years and the customers keep coming in.
“I think ice cream has been around for a long time and people want just a cool, delicious treat and it’s just an easy one to eat I guess,” said Grace Wearda of Cowboy Cookie and Ice Cream.
Another couple of blocks south, Nite Creamery’s manager thinks the popularity is about reliving your childhood.
“It makes you feel like a kid again, especially around here,” said Francisco Amaya. “Your ice cream is being made right in front of you. It’s something that takes you back to when you were a kid.”
When Amaya says “right in front of you,” he means it. Nite Creamery takes locally-made to the next level.
“Depending on what you order, we add each individual ingredient one by one,” Amaya explained. “We mix it all together on the spot and actually freeze it on the spot as well, so you actually have the opportunity to see your ice cream right in front of you.”
The secret is liquid nitrogen. It’s cold enough to freeze the ingredients almost instantly and it vaporizes right back out of the finished product almost as fast.
The result is a super-smooth texture because it keeps the liquid from crystallizing.
Around the corner and a couple blocks north, Batch offers a vegan version of the frozen confection.
Then there’s Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab and another newcomer, Rolld Ice Cream Company.
Of course, ice cream is most popular during the summer, but employees in all of the shops say with the mild weather on the Central Coast, ice cream is popular year-round.