Some businesses that have been around for a long time keep things going by doing it all the same way, but sometimes, you have to keep reinventing yourself. It looks like Ballard’s in Concord has had to do that, but they’re still a charming place to take your kids or kid at heart.
I had never been to Ballard’s, but they used to have a retail store (Ballard’s Novelty & Party) that carried all sorts of things, including costumes and dancewear for the Concord, NH area. Although it closed in 2010, due at least in part I’m sure to the advent of the internet and big box stores, Ballard’s Ice Cream is still a charming throwback to another era – perhaps 1983, when they began selling ice cream.
My friend Sheree and I probably picked one of the worst days for ice cream – it wasn’t just cold, but it was raining, hard, and the playground equipment and outdoor area that would normally seem charming sure seemed depressing and empty in the rain! But we had a job to do (also, lots of catching up to do), so we weren’t going to let a thing like a downpour deter us.
I should also be upfront and say that we chose this location because it was new to me & convenient for our purposes. I knew that it wasn’t homemade ice cream (they said it comes from a few local vendors) and I also knew it was premium ice cream, not super premium, which isn’t something I try to be a snob about but which does tend to make for an ice cream I’m not as gung-ho about, as my blog entries will attest. But honestly, what sold me on Ballard’s was the sheer number of flavors on their website. There were tons of them that sounded delicious, and I couldn’t want to see what they had available during our visit.
I had my eye on Frosted Cupcake, described as “premium vanilla cupcake flavored ice cream loaded with a chocolate frosting swirl and chunks of tasty yellow cake”. Any time I can get a cross between cake and ice cream I am ridiculously excited about it, and this really sounded awesome. Of course they were out. 😦 (Being the detective sleuth that I am, I tried googling the flavor to know where it came from – looks like Hershey’s to me.)
But I came prepared with two other flavors, which they were willing to cram into a small cup for me even at the insanely cheap price of $2.75! (Their regular is $4.25, which means you can either go a little smaller than average and save big or go a little bigger and pay more, but it’s reasonable either way.)
Here’s my report on what I did get!
Midnight Caramel River – This was really tasty, and actually tasted almost exactly like a Hoodsie cup! “Creamy golden vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream flooded with a thick caramel swirl.” (Looks like Hershey’s too!)
Caramel Cheesecake Cookie Monster – The caramel in this is tasty, but it’s definitely not high quality – like a kids treat. The base is sort of cookies and creamy…I didn’t like the chocolate chunks, unfortunately, they were very chalky, and the cheesecake in this was only okay. “Caramel ice cream loaded with delicious cookies and cream cheesecake chunks and a chocolate wafer cookie.” (Also a possible Hershey’s match.)
I would absolutely recommend Ballard’s for kids. There is a train to play on, plenty of seating, affordable ice cream and they have tons of “real food” options as well, including sandwiches, fried food and even tacos. So it would be a fun night out with your family and you can support a local business. Following Ballard’s Facebook page has shown me how much they support their fellow businesses (even their own competition in Concord) and they absolutely deserve your support.
And although it wasn’t my favorite ice cream adventure (the weather didn’t help), I learned that I am very drawn to Hershey’s flavors – and the company was fantastic, which is the most important thing!
Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful week!
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