With temperatures climbing by the day, it’s a sure sign summertime is just around the corner – and summertime means business is booming at Fayetteville’s frozen custard and ice cream shops.

With Andy’s Frozen Custard recently opening its doors to local residents, Fayetteville now has four frozen treat establishments to choose from. Founded in Joplin, Missouri in 1991, Shake’s Frozen Custard (which some of us still stubbornly call “Shakey’s”) is Fayetteville’s original frozen custard shop, having opened its doors on College Avenue in 1997. Next up is MaggieMoo’s, a franchise chain stemming from Kansas City, Kansas. MaggieMoo’s opened its doors locally several years ago, and has been serving up a multitude of ice cream flavors ever since, and boasting “the #1 ice cream in America”. The Cold Stone Creamery franchise comes to us from Tempe, Arizona and touts “super-premium ice cream”. The Fayetteville store recently opened in its Joyce Plaza location. And better late than never, Springfield, Missouri’s Andy’s Frozen Custard opened for business in May of this year, serving vanilla and chocolate frozen custard to the masses on College Avenue, in the old Oseguera’s building.

But with so many options, how are we ever to know what’s best? In the spirit of the Tacothon, I set out to find the best frozen treat Fayetteville has to offer.

At first, I was reluctant to compare custard against ice cream, what with all the debate against the differences of the two. I eventually realized, though, that I’m not conducting a scientific experiment – I just want to know what tastes the best! So I gathered a panel of judges to conduct a blind taste test of vanilla and chocolate from each of the four establishments, judging the product in the categories of “texture”, “flavor”, “sweetness” and “melting rate” on a scale of 1 to 5, for a total of 20 points. The judges were also provided a comments section, where they could go into more detail about their scores and more vividly explain their results. The Custardthon was conducted in two rounds, Round Vanilla and Round Chocolate. Here are the results, from worst to best. Enjoy!

Round Vanilla

Round Vanilla

#4 Cold Stone Creamery
The majority of the judges were not fond of poor Cold Stone’s vanilla ice cream, one judge describing the flavor as “b.o.r.i.n.g.” A recurring issue was its lack of sweetness, and the poor imitation vanilla flavor: “creamy, but not sweet enough!” “Tastes like soft serve!”, complained another judge. Although some of the judges liked the “milky” flavor, the scores were low enough to place Cold Stone in the lowest spot. Sorry, Cold Stone, you came in stone cold fourth.

#3 Andy’s Frozen Custard
Welcome to Fayetteville, Andy’s – it looks like you’ve got some stiff competition around here. Although several judges commented on the pleasant creaminess of Andy’s vanilla custard, its “weirdish aftertaste” placed Andy’s in at #3. “It’d be better with toppings”, remarked one judge. Others found the flavor to be “somewhat artificial” and complained that it “melted too quickly”. One upbeat judge simply commented, “I love ice cream.” Agreed, judge, agreed. Keep your chin up, Andy’s!

#2 MaggieMoo’s
Well done, Maggie! Your vanilla ice cream wooed the judges with its homemade qualities and intense vanilla flavor. With its slow melting rate and creamy texture, MaggieMoo’s had a “perfect velvety texture, a lot like homemade!”, praised one judge. “Good flavor – intense vanilla creaminess!”, said another. Although Maggie’s came in at #2, some of the judges were not as impressed. “I could have probably made this”, declared one judge. Maggie herself brags of the “#1 Ice Cream in America”. In Fayetteville, Maggie, your vanilla is close: a solid #2.

#1 Shake’s
“Perfection!” was a repeated acclaim for Shake’s vanilla frozen custard. Almost all the judges praised Shake’s “just enough” vanilla flavoring, and its rich, creamy texture. “Yum, tastes fattening!”, commented one judge. One judge ranked it hands down as the “best of the vanillas”. Another borderline judge had a change of heart: “Could be creamier. Nevermind. It’s pretty freaking good.” Keep doing what you’re doing, Shake’s. You’re our #1 vanilla.

Round Chocolate

Round Chocolate

#4 Cold Stone Creamery
Gosh, Cold Stone! Your chocolate ice cream left us unsatisfied. Although one judge found your flavor to be like, “sweet, dark chocolate”, the majority found your texture to be “not a favorite”, and your flavor to “taste a lot like Jello pudding”. “Generic!”, “Boring as heck!”, griped several other judges. “Can someone please learn what chocolate tastes like?!”, complained another. One judge was hopeful Cold Stone’s chocolate ice cream could be redeemed: “It just needs brownies.” Another judge may have been slightly confused: “Coconut?” Sorry again, Cold Stone – another stone cold fourth place.

#3 Shake’s
Great vanilla custard, Shake’s – but you may want to work on your chocolate! With this sample, the judges were convinced I had thrown a Wendy’s Frosty into the mix. “I love a good Frosty!”, declared one judge. “Frostyliciousness”, exclaimed another. Along with the Frosty comparisons, many of the judges complained of a grainy texture, with “too many ice crystals”. “Not as rich as I would like”, one judge mentioned. “Deceptively dull”, complained another. We love you, Shake’s, but you’ve got a little work to do in the chocolate department.

#2 Andy’s
Andy, your rich chocolate flavor impressed most of our discerning judges. Many appreciated the “dark, semi-sweet chocolate flavor”, while others remarked that it “tastes like what you’d expect a good chocolate to taste like.” Sweetness was an issue for some: “good flavor, not too sweet!”, praised one judge, while another complained, “I would like a sweeter chocolate”. One judge remarked on its “chalky” texture, while another demanded, “Too rich! Chill out!” Overall, the high marks and positive comments allowed Andy’s chocolate custard to come in at a respectable #2 position. High five, Andy!

#1 MaggieMoo’s
With over half the scores a perfect 20, Maggie’s chocolate ice cream blew the doors of its competition. “FAVE”, raved one judge. “Good as hay-ell!”, cheered another. Maggie’s texture, flavor and slow melting rate pleased all the judges, and some even commented on its “nice color”. “Perfect, like a creamy chocolate bar”, gushed a judge. One judge was a bit overwhelmed: “Extreme flavor! Turn the dial back, dude!”, she pleaded. Maggie’s chocolate ice cream was so good, it even made one judge want to slap someone. Congratulations, Maggie. You’re #1!


Limonata Spritzer.

Along with the ice cream and custard, our judges’ panel was lucky enough to sample some of Little Rock’s Lombardi Company products, like its Cream of Limoncello and Limonata. Based on the Lombardi family recipe from 1907, Lombardi’s Cream of Limoncello combines the sweet citrusy flavor of traditional limoncello with whole milk, resulting in a creamy drink that’s sweetly indulgent. Lombardi’s latest product, Limonata, a refreshing hard lemonade, can be enjoyed alone or as a mixer.

I asked the judges’ panel to sample and comment on both drinks, and then come up with a drink of their own. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive: judges remarked on the Cream of Limoncello’s “tastiness” and “creaminess factor”, and used it as the base for several popular drinks, including what was dubbed the Pineapple Pizza, named for its deliciousness (like pizza) and its pineapple juice. The Limonata was also a huge hit with the judges, who remarked on its versatility and refreshing flavor. “I’m in love with it!”, exclaimed one judge. “Dangerously good – watch out!”, warned another. Two popular drinks made with the Limonata were the Limonata Spritzer, mixed with club soda, fresh mint and garnished with a cherry, and a traditional Shandy – half beer, half Limonata. A huge thank you to the Lombardi Company for allowing us to sample your delicious products!

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