As we enter the dog days of summer, there is nothing like a trip to a local ice cream stand to cool off and enjoy a sweet treat at the same time. Where we live in Columbus, we are blessed with living a five minute drive from a Handel’s stand (how did they know we were nearby?). So going out for ice cream always brings back Youngstown memories of Handel’s and other good places for ice cream.
Let’s begin with Handel’s. The company website says Alice Handel started serving homemade ice cream out of her husband’s gas station as far back as 1945, using old-fashioned recipes and fresh fruit. Wikipedia indicates the franchise was established in November 1969, the same time as Columbus-original, Wendy’s. All I know was that Handel’s was among the places to be on a hot summer evening and teens drove from all over town to get Mrs. Handel’s homemade ice cream, sitting on or in our cars to eat it, since it was a walk up stand off an alley near the intersection of Market and Midlothian. (My wife grew up just down the street on Midlothian–I had to come all the way from the west side!). Handel’s has made a number of “Ten Best” lists including a list in USA Today.
I don’t think I heard of Handel’s until high school. Until then, the place to go was Isaly’s. Both my wife and I have memories of our parents driving to the main Isaly dairy plant at the intersection of Mahoning Avenue and Glenwood to get their trademark skyscraper cones, scooped with a specially designed scoop. My wife remembers her folks always getting the sherbets, particularly orange sherbet. I was more a butter pecan and chocolate guy. It was all good.
Isaly’s actually didn’t get started in Youngstown but in Mansfield, Ohio, moving early to Marion, Ohio, from which it expanded to Columbus, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh. According to Wikipedia, Isaly’s launched a commercial building program in the 1930’s in an art deco/Art Moderne style of which the Youngstown dairy plant was a prime example. Sadly, the dairy operation closed in 1969 and the building was eventually sold to U-Haul, who still occupies it. In 1986 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Truly, it is an iconic Youngstown building!
The local standby within walking distance of my home was Dairy Queen, on Mahoning Avenue between Maryland and Belle Vista. There was a time you could get a small vanilla or chocolate soft-serve cone for 5 cents, complete with the twirl on top. A 15 cent cone was huge. For a little extra, you could get chocolate or strawberry “dips”. Later, they added things like Dilly bars, but plain old ice cream cones were my favorite. The old Dairy Queen building is still standing according to Google Street View, now the site of Hunan Express.
My wife and I speculated that going out for ice cream was popular in part because back when we were growing up, our refrigerators had very small freezers, unless you had a separate freezer, which neither of our parents had. You had to use the freezer for those staple items, whether frozen juices, vegetables or meats, and just didn’t have room for a carton of ice cream. And it was cheap! Imagine getting ice cream for a family of four for as little as 50 cents, and certainly under a dollar. Now, it is $5 or more for my wife and I to go to our local Handel’s (but still worth it!).
I’d love to hear your ice cream memories and your stories of other good places to get ice cream around Youngstown!
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