In a world that’s transfixed by “the new” and “what’s trending,” there also seems to be a renewed interest in the nostalgic traditions that somehow withstand an ever-evolving popular culture. Of these traditions, one of the most adored is also one of the simplest joys of summer: a trip to the local ice cream shop. This particular tradition—rooted in family, community and some old-fashioned Americana—is here to stay.
We’ve scouted out the oldest ice cream shops in the area and learned their stories. This is not just a love letter to ice cream and the people who provide it; this is a cone-cheer to all the wondrous flavors the summer of 2015 has in store for us.
Here’s the scoop, so to speak.
3419 St. Croix Trail South, Afton 651.436.5131 // selmasparlour.com
The Classic: Zanzibar ice cream, made with three different kinds of cocoa.
The New: Bourbon Pecan Pie, bourbon ice cream with sea salt chocolate fudge ripple and roasted pecan.
After more than a century of serving delicious ice cream, Selma’s has delighted generations of ice cream lovers. Today, owner Becky Nickerson says boaters at the marina call frequently and request that [Selma’s] put off closing for just a little longer until they can get there. It’s harder to say whether Afton’s favorite little ice cream shop has a stronger history or a stronger following.
Through the Ages
It’s hard to imagine that Selma’s Parlour began as an early 19th century ammunition storage spot during the Civil War, but it is a fact that adds to the rich history of one of Minnesota’s oldest ice cream shops.
The long-standing success of the shop came to a halt in 2009. Selma’s was closed, shuttered and entering foreclosure, until one family—the Nickersons—came along and rewrote its future.
Today, Selma’s is everything you could want from a family-owned ice cream shop. “We were looking for something we could all do together,” says Becky Nickerson about her family. The Nickersons purchased Selma’s from CorTrust Bank in 2011 after it had been foreclosed. Becky, her husband Paul, and their six children, who range in age from 10 to 19, work together to maintain Selma’s charm, historical character and success.
At the “new and improved” Selma’s, in addition to ice cream and candy, customers can purchase espresso or coffee drinks. That’s a modern twist to a historical shop, with details such as a candy jars atop a front counter with the original walnut wood where customers have been served for years. The one thing that hasn’t changed over time? Patrons of all ages wearing ice cream-smudged smiles.
The General Scoop
101 Judd Street, Marine on St. Croix 651.433.2445
Residents, boaters and ice cream devotees flock to this charming store with the big, pink ice cream cone painted on its side.
Through the Ages
Of the three featured ice cream shops, The General Scoop is by far the youngest, serving delicious hard ice cream since 1977. Formerly known as The Village Scoop, the store used to be located in a historic building on the north end of Judd Street. It moved into its current location in 1999 when Doris Strand was the owner, from 1984 until she passed away in 2012. Rumors swirled about the Scoop closing down, until Andy and Karen Kramer stepped forward. “We knew we couldn’t let the Scoop close, because it was such a long-standing business, and for many people an essential part of their visit to Marine in the summer,” Andy Kramer says.
At the time of Strand’s death, the Kramers owned the Marine General Store. Their 1870 store, the oldest continuously operating store in Minnesota, had always been the sister building adjacent to the Scoop. In fact, the Scoop’s space was originally the grocery store’s chicken coop. (The General Store is also the inspiration for Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor).
Today While the Kramers preserved an important piece of history in their community, they also made a number of changes. They changed the shop’s name to The General Scoop, a nod to their store, and they undertook a large landscaping project that has made it possible for customers to enjoy their ice cream on a back patio that overlooks the Marine Mill Stream.
Earlier this year, the Kramers announced their decision to retire and are currently looking to sell The General Store and the Scoop to new owners who share their interest in preserving the shop’s historical integrity.
After all, as Andy says, “We’re soon to be grandparents, so we expect it won’t be long before we are introducing another generation to The Scoop!”
The Classic: Black cherry ice cream, a creamy base with plump black cherry slices mixed in.
The New: Starting this summer, The General Scoop will offer new combinations with cookies and brownies made from scratch in the Marine General Store bakery.
Nelson’s Ice Cream
920 Olive St. W., Stillwater 651.430.1103 // nelsonsicecream.biz
At this famed Stillwater spot, finishing your mile-high ice cream cone is a rare feat. Despite the challenge—or perhaps, because of it—folks line up out the door to give it a try every day of Nelson’s Ice Cream’s open season.
Through the Ages
When Seven Corners grocery store opened its Stillwater location in 1923, owner John Lustig offered groceries, meats and ice cream made from the first pasteurized milk in the area. His successor, Art Nelson, assumed ownership in 1947 and renamed it Nelson’s Ice Cream, thus starting the store’s transformation. In 1964, after Nelson eventually passed the business down to his son, Wade, they began to offer customers large two-scoop cones for just 10 cents. It was the beginning of a local legacy. Bob Pasket and Chuck Kummeth took over Nelson’s for just more than a decade, continuing the tradition until 2006, but at the time, there lingered a threat of foreclosure. When Dave Najarian and Bill Bergstrom partnered together to buy Nelson’s in 2005, Najarian says he considered Nelson’s “as much of a landmark to Stillwater as the lift bridge.”
Najarian’s son, Daved Najarian Jr., became involved in the shop when he was a college student. He learned the business from his father and is now the owner and manager of Nelson’s newest location, which opened in St. Paul in 2014.
On any given summer night, the 92-year-old Stillwater building and parking lot area are crowded with ice cream lovers with eyes often much bigger than their stomachs. Dave Najarian says two of the best things about Nelson’s are the excitement surrounding the cones and the fact that “we love owning a business where everyone who comes in is in a great mood.”
The Classic: The stand-by combo: 1 scoop of cookies and cream, and 1 scoop of peppermint bon bon.
The New: Coffee, meet coconut: 1 scoop of coconut joy, 1 scoop of java chunk.
addition to the area’s historical ice cream shops—Nelson’s, Selma’s and the
General Scoop—the following is a list of other sweet spots to visit this
Grill & Malt Shop
the name suggests, Leo’s frozen treat of choice is the malt. If you like
chocolate, try this 1950s-themed shop’s classic chocolate malt. And, if you love chocolate, go for the “Death by
Chocolate” malt—the classic malt with Oreos and coffee flavoring mixed in and
topped with whipped cream and a cherry. 131
Main St. S., Stillwater; 651.351.3943
hard to beat a “DQ” trip on a hot summer day. If you’re looking for a deviation
from that favorite treat you’ve enjoyed since childhood, here’s something new
to try: the Cherry Breeze. It’s a cherry Mister Misty blended with soft serve
vanilla ice cream. Both tart and sweet, it’s the best-kept secret you won’t
find on the menu.
9 S. Second St., Hudson;
hard to go wrong with Culver’s legendary frozen vanilla custard. However, don’t
miss the opportunity to ask, “What’s the flavor of the day?” If you’re lucky,
you might get the chance to try blueberry cheesecake or orange creamsicle.
Marketplace, 1725 Market Drive, Stillwater; 651.351.2989; and 151 Carmichael Road,
as fall lattes are dominated by the flavor of pumpkin spice, this summer, ice
cream is all about the salted caramel flavor. FreeStyle Frozen Yogurt offers
its interpretation of this flavor craze: Salted Caramel Pretzel. Throw on some
chocolate caramel cups and you’ll be sure to satisfy that salty/sweet craving.
529 Second S., Hudson; 715.808.0840
no wonder Cold Stone included “creamery” in its name because, when it comes to
their ice cream, the smooth creaminess of its product has customers coming back
time and again. If you can’t choose from the menu options, or can’t decide what
to put in a creation of your own, try one of the most popular options—the
Birthday Cake Remix: cake batter ice cream, rainbow sprinkles, brownie bits and
1005 Pearson Drive, Hudson; 715.381.9899
Berry Yogurt Bar
a treat that can satisfy a sweet tooth without the high calories has made frozen
yogurt, or “fro-yo,” a popular choice for many. With regular fro-yo, and
non-fat, low-fat, no-sugar-added, dairy-free and Greek flavors, everyone’s
happy. For something on the lighter side, try mixing the tart flavor with the
low-fat cherry limeade flavor. Top it with fresh kiwis, strawberries and
blueberries to complete the masterpiece.
Carmichael Road, Hudson; 715.808.8296
ice cream in St. Paul is a great treat while in St. Paul, but sometimes, you
just want to stay in the neighborhood. Good thing Mara-Mi carries Izzy’s ice
cream! The flavors are on continual rotation, but the fan favorite that is
always available is the salted caramel and for good reason; one spoonful, and
you’ll call it a favorite, too.
St. S., Stillwater; 651.689.1730