Local tourism offers tasty treats with adventure on Pennsylvania’s Ice Cream Trail - TAI News
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Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash.

What better way is there to travel around Pennsylvania than to follow a trail of ice cream shops and creameries, scooping up sweet treats across the Keystone State as you go?

An annual event called Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail was launched in 2018 by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in partnership with the tourism office of the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Center for Dairy Excellence. The event features 41 creameries and celebrates the state’s dairy businesses. 

From May 30 to Sept. 7, visitors can check in to a few or all of the creameries participating in the trail for a taste, a cone, a cup, or a gallon and record their visits using a free mobile passport to redeem points for prizes and special offers. 

Melinda Shaw, the owner of Hangry Bear Creamery in Kennett Square, about an hour’s drive southwest of Philadelphia, told the Pennsylvania Independent that this was the first year her creamery is participating in the Ice Cream Trail. For all of the creameries, she said, “It’s definitely a pride thing to be a part of that ice cream culture.

“I’m very proud to be recognized by the state and as a big supporter of PA agriculture because we didn’t just want to be an ice cream shop; we wanted to make sure that we’re supporting the farmers that help us make the milk and raise the animals and everything,” Shaw said. “I think that there’s the people who are supporting us by visiting the trail, and then we get to support our dairy farms and farmers too.”

Hangry Bear Creamery’s menu includes ice cream flavors with names such as Wookie Cookie, Unicorn Toots, and Kara Needs S’More Coffee, and the shop also offers customers the option of creating custom flavors. Shaw said a group of 8-year-olds recently created a lemon ice cream with strawberry pie.

In order to participate in the trail, a creamery or shop must receive a certification from the state’s “PA Preferred” program indicating that its products are made with milk that is 100% sourced in the state. There are currently about 5,000 dairy farms in Pennsylvania, and 99% are family-owned.

Melanie Bachman and her husband Mark own God’s Country Creamery, located in the township of Ulysses, population 647. They were asked to participate in the trail because there were so few creameries represented north of Route 80, in an area known as the Pennsylvania Wilds.

The creamery was established in 2008, but it mostly produced cheese. Two years ago, the business added ice cream.

Bachman said she hopes being included in the trail will profit the creamery, but also give visitors a chance to see a working farm.

“They’re more than welcome to visit our cows and ask questions. We’re around the farm working most of the time. And then just to enjoy the beauty of Potter County. If they want to get away from civilization, this is a place to do it,” Bachman told the Pennsylvania Independent.

Visitors on the ice cream trail earn 100 points for each stop at a creamery. As they earn points, they’re eligible for prizes, such as a limited edition 2024 T-shirt and a commemorative stainless steel ice cream scoop.

“Each summer, the Ice Cream Trail is a fun way for families from Pennsylvania and beyond to actually meet the dairy farm families who work around the clock, 365 days a year, to produce delicious dairy products and farm-fresh ice cream,” Emily Barge, the communications and marketing manager for the nonprofit Center for Dairy Excellence, said in an email to the Pennsylvania Independent.

Hamzah Dawood recently purchased Greco’s Italian Ices and Homemade Ice Cream in Lititz, a small town in Lancaster County named the “coolest” town in America in a poll of readers of Budget Travel in 2013 and mentioned in 2022 by Fodor’s as having one of the “most charming Main Streets in the United States.”

Dawood, 27, a Lititz native, told the Pennsylvania Independent that even though it’s his first year on the trail, he’s already had several tourists stop by, and he hopes more people will visit his creamery. 

“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I dessert, is what I say,” Dawood said.

Greco’s most popular dish uses all-local Pennsylvania-made ingredients, Dawood said: “Our No. 1 seller is actually called the ‘Taste of Lititz’ ice cream, and that’s a vanilla-based ice cream with Wilbur chocolate chips, Sturgis pretzels, Reese’s peanut butter and Reese’s hot fudge.”.

“It’s just having a lot of fun with it. It’s supposed to be fun, supposed to bring a smile to people’s faces, and that’s what we try to do every day,” Dawood said.

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The Pennsylvania Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.