Ice Cream: Germany vs. USA

Do you have to judge an ice cream shop by how good their simplest flavors are?  Or can we just agree that Chocolate-PB ice cream with cookie dough, brownies, fudge, extra peanut butter and some more oreos can be good enough?

Glacier Ice Cream - Boulder, CO
Glacier Ice Cream – Boulder, CO
One scoop at Eis Schmidt in the Schanze
Eis Schmidt in the Schanze – Hamburg, Germany

This summer I had another great vacation in the US – with some emphasis one finding the best ice cream whatever city we happened to be in.  People sometimes wonder if I cannot get good ice cream in Germany – of course I can, but it’s very different.   There are so many different flavors, sizes, toppings, creations, consistencies and styles of ice cream. So to me, it’s like two completely different desserts to me.  I actually don’t want to go into the discussion of comparing them because both are great in their own way.  Like there’s no point in comparing chocolate pudding to Apfelstrudel!  But I guess they’re both called ice cream…

So here’s what I think:  In the US, I love the creative and daring flavors – every heard of cumin turmeric with ground black pepper, brown butter candied bacon… If you’re from the States, then probably yes.  But believe me, in Germany, you’d be stared at if you said you liked that ice cream.  Apart from just crazy flavors I also love the “normal” american flavors; that you could get in almost any grocery store.  For example Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, Butter Pecan… It’s nearly impossible to find good comparisons to those in Germany.  One of my favorite aspects of ice cream in the US is the mixture of multiple ingredients (not just flavors) in one scoop – talking Coldstone Creamery here.  Any Eisladen might be daring to mix a few tastes into one flavor, but you rarely see very chunky ingredients or swirls in your ice cream.  It’s smooth and doesn’t contain a variety of textures.  Of course that makes you take in the actually quality of the ice cream more.  Some people say that the way to prove if a place is really good – if its most simple delicacy tastes delicious.  Next, I am the person who can’t buy a scoop before I’ve sampled my share.  During my visit I was amazed by how generous and customer friendly ice cream shops were when it came to sampling!  At Salt & Straw in Portland, I actually sampled 8 flavors and they didn’t seem to mind at all!  I had this encounter numerous more times throughout different ice cream branches in the country.

Unfortunately the prices of one scoop of ice cream are not comparable to those of eine Kugel Eis.  They might be twice as big, but still wouldn’t you rather have more flavors than bigger scoops?  So here you can easily get ice cream for 1€ – 1,20€, whereas in US the average is probably the equivalent of 3,50€!  Additionally, like many things in the US, I find that they’re more extreme on the good and bad end. While in any big german city there’s a good, local, individual ice cream shop within walking distance in the US you’ll have your hits and misses of the city.     So you’ll find the best places you can imagine, but you have to actually find them first…

Unless I just tell you straight off where they are 😉  For that check this post (coming soon) about where to find the best ice cream on the West Coast (Bellingham, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles) and Boulder, CO.  I also have a list of my favorite chains, and ice creams that you can buy in any grocery store!


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