With another long hot summer in front of Alexandria's residents, many peoples' thoughts are turning to ice cream — and city shops have prepared new flavors for the new hot season.
The Scoop Grill and Ice Cream is a block from the Potomac River on a stretch of King Street popular with tourists.
This year, The Scoop's Owner/Manager Charlie Lindsey has introduced four no-sugar ice cream flavors. In recent years customers had asked Lindsey if he had no-sugar flavors and this gave him the idea, he said.
The new flavors are cherries jubilee, pecan cream, creme de menthe chip and chocolate vanilla swirl, the last one being fat-free as well as sugar-free. They are made with NutraSweet sweetener, Lindsey explained.
"They are selling real well," Lindsey observed. Lindsey has also introduced a Guinness Stout ice cream flavor. It joins a Jack Daniel's whiskey flavor at the shop.
Lindsey said the best weather for ice cream sales is about 80 degrees with low humidity and no wind. Any deviation from this yields reduced sales.
The season will kick into high gear after the students get out of school, Lindsey said.
In addition to selling ice cream on cones and cups, the Scoop sells sundaes, floats, shakes and frozen custard.
JUST ACROSS the street from The Scoop lies another bastion of Alexandria ice cream, Pop's Ice Cream.
Executive Chef Naim Mousa, also executive chef at The Fish Market restaurant, makes the shop's ice cream behind a glass window in the shop's rear. Mousa boasts that his shop uses cream with 17 percent butterfat. High butterfat makes a better ice cream, he said.
This year the shop has introduced coffee espresso and fudge tracks flavors. The latter is selling well, Mousa said.
Mousa's daughter, Wafa Mousa, works at Pop's as an ice cream scooper. Wafa noted that from just looking at some people she can know they will order a sundae.
Along with ice cream in cones and cups, Pop's also sells milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits, floats, sodas, Italian ice and low fat frozen yogurt.
RIGHT AROUND the block from these two shops is a locally owned outpost of one of America's favorite ice cream chains, Ben and Jerry's.
The managers of the parent company "have flavor gurus," said José Cerda, owner of the local shop. The gurus come up with flavor ideas, Cerda said. "Their job is to get inspiration from anything out there."
Customers also e-mail the company suggestions for flavors, Cerda offered.
This summer Cerda's shop has the following new flavors: bananas on the rum, Jamaica me crazy, sublime key lime pie and chocolate peanut butter swirl. So far the last flavor is proving to be the most popular, Cerda said.
Cerda agreed with Lindsey that the best weather for ice cream sales was hot but not too hot. "If the weather is right and it's summer, you have so many people you're almost turning them away," Cerda said.
Ben and Jerry's sells ice cream and with ice cream, sundaes and cookie and brownie sundaes. It also sells sorbet and with sorbet it sells smoothies and "splashes," which combine sorbet with soda.
ALMOST TWO MILES north in the Del Ray neighborhood lies another of Alexandria's locally-owned cold sweet shops. "Cold sweet" and not "ice cream" because Dairy Godmother does not sell ice cream.
Instead, the shop sells freshly-made frozen custard, which is ice milk with egg yolk mixed in with it, and sorbets.
Dairy Godmother's Owner, Elizabeth Davis, is proud that her shop supplies some Old Town restaurants.
Since last summer Davis' shop has introduced the following sorbets: grilled plum, Riesling and green apple, honey and citron, fig with Tellicherry pepper, and smoked peach and black tea.
Dairy Godmother always has vanilla and chocolate frozen custard available. It also always has a special custard flavor available. On June 21 and June 22 it will introduce a new flavor, summer pudding with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and angel food cake.
In addition to selling sorbet and custard the Dairy Godmother sells sundaes, floats, milkshakes, fruit cobblers, cookies, marshmallows, moon pies and short bread.
Unusually, Dairy Godmother sells cold treats for dogs also. Its "puppy pop" is hugely popular and the shop frequently sells more than 100 a day, Davis said.
By late summer the shop hopes to sell Popsicles for people in the following flavors: cappuccino, root beer float and Moroccan mint tea.