Expectations can be pretty difficult to meet when both a bandmate and Yankee Magazine had told me this place was the best around. Last year when we tried, we first discovered it not open on Monday and then that it closed for real on Labor Day. Since Sean was still sitting around waiting for his work to reopen (the owners had a kid), we drove up and both had Chocolate custard cones.
Hodgman’s has been here for sixty-three years bringing frozen confections to those willing to head north of Portland. It’s located on Rt 100 just past Gray, and before you get to Lewiston. It’s an old dairy that seems to now be wholly repurposed to bring full flavor to Maine Summers. The biggest bell or whistle here was likely going to be part of the banjo band that was on the verge of being rained out later this afternoon. Even these sort of concerts are rarities.
Driving here is a treat from Portland. It’s just as easy to keep going straight past Lib’s as it is to hop on the Maine Turnpike to pay tolls and not get to see any of the countryside. There are a few strips of shops along the way here, but the neon Frozen Custard sign on the crest of this building makes sure that you are ready for this as you get near. There’s ample parking, and it seemed as though half of the people that ordered returned to their cars and ate their with families. Others wandered around the building where there was a roofed-in patio full of picnic tables, as well as a few that were open to the elements.
What Hodgman’s focuses on is their custard. Unlike other places that offer the widest variety of flavors in the widest array of options (ice cream, yogurt, sorbet, dairy-free, sugar-free, sherbet, gelato, …), Hodgman’s keeps things remarkably basic. There are three flavors. The first two are vanilla and chocolate. The third flavor changes weekly. This week it was a maple walnut. There are no chips or anything mixed in. A sugar cone is an extra nickel. You can get jimmies or nuts for thirty cents.
I started with a sample of the maple walnut, which was stunning. It had the flavor of walnut without any nut particles, but it was ruled by a strong maple flavor. Good as it was, the girl behind the window was in agreement when I opted for chocolate instead. This was a simple and elegant cone. A grand milk chocolate flavor that was rich as the addition of eggs to the mix often is. I was so wowed, and the price was so cheap, that I went back and tried the sampler size of the vanilla as well (though I forgot to direct them to a sugar cone). This is what vanilla is supposed to be like. I let Sean have a taste and he thought he could delineate the entire genealogy of the bean from it.
This was a great drive and far closer to town than either of us imagined. If only there were a drive-in theater nearby, this place might be a worthwhile date destination for anyone. As it is, I’m still going to recommend it to anyone who wants to know what custard really is. Unless they live closer to Ted Drewes in which case I can direct them accordingly. We liked this so much, we came home with a quart, and that only rang up at $5.75.
Cone – sampler $1.65 regular $2 large $3 ex. large $4
Sundae – sampler $2.25 regular $2.75 large $3.95 ex. large $5.25
Milkshake Frappe – thin $2.95 thick $3.95
Hodgman’s Frozen Custard
Open Memorial Day-Labor Day