With the final day of the Scooper Bowl coinciding with my brother’s birthday, we planned to meet up in City Hall Plaza after work to take advantage of the last hour. Tim twirled around Beacon Hill looking for a parking spot so we wound up passing through the booths in opposite directions after passing through this ice cream gate.
I started with Ben and Jerry’s and had a scoop of Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road. Which was some sort of butter brickle thing apparently, but I’m not sure if they are trying to imply a Wizard of Oz thing with this or if it is an Elton John-derived flavor. It didn’t matter so much when we got the Baskin Robbins mascot and some nearby girls to sing “Happy Birthday” to Tim.
Next to them was Spasso’s Gelato from Needham, the only small shoppe represented here. I got a Bacio, a chocolate hazelnut gelato, and if you get lucky you may find a few whole hazelnuts mixed in. It was nice to see the newly minted gelateria taking up as much booth space as their much larger neighbors. While it was the one place that most people were unfamiliar with, it also became the most buzzed about.
This sandcastle version of Red Sox third-baseman Mike Lowell was an odd diversion in the midst of hungry ice cream fanatics. In the same way, choosing the Zesty Lemon Sorbet from Häagen-Dazs kept my palate from being overrun with just cream. The sorbet had a tangy kick that definitely merited that zesty moniker.
It’s easy to forget that many of these companies are local entities, and Edy’s Mint Chocolate Chip, was a fine scoop in the midst of a few booths, but unfortunately, like many of the other exhibitors, they chose a very unadventurous palate of options. Most places put up both a vanilla and chocolate, and for Edy’s this was as wild as they got.
I was surprised to find Garelick Farms and Gifford’s Ice Cream sharing a booth. I shouldn’t be astonished that the largest dairies in Massachusetts and Maine joined forces in these economic climates, I just never knew they were owned by the same folks. The scoop of Chocolate I ate had a nice light flavor that was almost so light as to be milky rather than creamy. A different approach, but a nice change of pace.
Breyer’s Cherry Vanilla was a nice classic flavor to put a stamp on the row of booths that lined up next to the stage where a band choogled away at some random cover songs. In the other corner were a few large jugs of water and women filling cups. It was a nice palate cleanser in the middle of all of these conflicting tastes.
Baskin Robbins won points for throwing some experimental flavors out for people to try. My tasting attempt was Rock ‘n’ Roll Swirl, a swirl of sour green apple sorbet and grape sorbet with pop rock-style candy mixed throughout. The grape sorbet was good, the apple a touch too sweet, and those problems were amplified by the candy. The sugar coated rocks don’t know what they are there for until suddenly a symphony of pops and bursts sets off in the mouth. Not what I expect of my forzen treats, but they get points for effort.
Brigham’s was the most disappointing of the lot. Their Vanilla With Oreo seemed as though it had gotten warm the day before because the first bite of this was full of jagged crystals of refrozen ice cream. With other options around, I didn’t feel too bad sending this off to the trash before the third bite.
H.P. Hood was the last booth, and of their uninspired options I chose the smallest dish of Coffee. I wouldn’t be surprise to find this in my parents freezer, and it almost didn’t even seem like they were trying at this point. With the minutes dwindling away until they struck the tents, people were gravitating toward their favorites rather than displaying how many cups they could balance as if it were a show of virility.
Tim and I conferred over our tastes and the one I missed out that he steered me back toward was Baskin Robbins’ York Peppermint Patty. He tried the swirl while we were over there, but was wholly unimpressed with the apple. So we crossed back to the other side and both tried on Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Dough. A good concept, but with the oatmeal dough, there are some oat husks that have the texture of eating paper.
Spasso’s Chocolate was a bit grainier and not quite as good as their bacio, and I’m still reeling from the assault of flavors that were pretending to be contained in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Macadamia. But the last scoop came back to the best of the whole Scooper Bowl – the bacio at Spasso. It was the underdog, from out of nowhere relying on quality over quantity.
Three overcast days did not help to make this the most successful Scooper Bowl in the event’s twenty seven years, but they still brought in nearly a quarter of a milion dollars. All of the proceeds from the $8 each person paid to get in to this gated ice cream oasis went to the Jimmy Fund. This tally board was posted in the middle of everything, but there was no way to tell how recently it had been updated.
All You Can Eat $8
The Jimmy Fund’s 27th Annual Scooper Bowl
City Hall Plaza, Boston 02108
Once a year for three days in June