Every Day’s a Sundae – Downers Grove IL

6 07 2008

Punnery is a lost art in the 21st Century. That’s probably why the 4th season of Rocky and Bullwinkle was promised, but never released on DVD. While the name of this ice cream shoppe may elicit groans, as puns often do, it is a sentiment that is tough to argue with. Despite some colorful ice creams on display, Tommy stuck with Chocolate, my friend Korry went for the Chocolate Cake Batter, and I opted for the Pomegranate Chip.

Cliched though it may be, it only seemed fitting to give this place a try on a Sunday. Even if I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that every day is indeed a sundae (or at least worthy of one), there’s something nearly spiritual about invoking this sort of idea. Plus I do believe that even if gods rest on the seventh day, they probably don’t count churning or scooping ice cream as a real task.

Every Day’s a Sundae is a weird sort of place.  Ice cream wasn’t even the genesis of the creation of this place, the berries were. And while the only location is in Downers Grove, things began on a berry farm in South Haven, Michigan. After joining forces with a store there, the berry farm started to bring their ice cream to regional festivals and fairs in the Midwest. Repeated overwhelming success at the Downers Grove Heritage Fest, made them open up a store downtown in 1992.

Pomegranate Chip was one of the flavors listed as new for this year and sounded like something that needed to be tried. I figured that something in the fruit family was necessary given the origins of the store. What was disarming, and a bit disappointing, was that the chips in the name weren’t chocolate. The chips in the ice cream weren’t even chips at all, but instead were granola. If they were fresh and crunchy, it might have worked better, but the ice cream had saturated them and the results were distracting from the cone because they had become soggy and then frozen to the point that I had first assumed it was rice krispies. The pomegranate flavor was great, the portions were quite large, and the creaminess was nice, but it was tough to get past the flaccid frozen stale granola in every bite.

Sometimes being adventurous in flavor choices isn’t the best approach. The tastes that I got of the chocolate were pretty great and Korry was astonished by how good the cake batter was (they also offered a white cake batter which seemed worth trying). There’s also a Chocomania favor that was as dark as Hershey’s Rocky Road that I’ll probably get if we go back here before I leave. While Massachusetts may eat the most ice cream per capita, Downers Grove seems like the Massachusetts of Chicagoland (and not just because of my nephew’s Red Sox cap).

Every Day’s a Sundae has a lot of tables inside for people to sit at, but outdoors has both tables of their own and abuts a large public space at the railroad junction in the heart of Downers Grove. Additionally (and most important when bringing along a 2-year-old) there is a bathroom in the back with a large sink so you can clean up your drippings. Plus there is the element of the ice cream shoppe that I find to be ideal which is lost to most these days – the water fountain.

Cone – junior $2.10 single $2.89 double $5.09

Sundae – junior $3.25 regular $4.15 large $5.75

Shakes and malts – $4.75

Every Day’s a Sundae

990 Warren Avenue Downers Grove, IL 60515

(630) 810-9155

Open year round

Mon-Sat 11a-10:30p Sun noon-10p


Oberweis Dairy – Downers Grove IL

5 07 2008

Sometimes the easiest way to expand someone’s horizons is to merely show them the possibilities. While it would be easy to placate my nephew by hitting repeat on “Wheels on the Bus,” the idea that more experimental music could work fueled our driving around Chicagoland suburbs. When we got in the car and he asked me to put on “Fingerpainting,” the 1999 album by the Red Krayola, I knew we were going to be able to get beyond Dairy Queen. He still stuck with Chocolate, and I opted to try a Butter Pecan cone.

Housed at the end of a strip mall, expectations were not for anything that was going to change the world. However, there were surprises inside. Like a large refrigerator case that held simple groceries in addition to take home half gallons. What was most promising was the glass bottles of fresh milk from Oberweis’ dairies. What’s truly amazing is that Oberweis still does home delivery for its milk.

Oberweis began as a family dairy in 1927, with informal origins dating back even further. The Aurora, Illinois-based dairy, started having shops back in 1951, and it seems that is when ice cream became its other central concept. Their products are certified kosher and all contain a minimum of 18% Butterfat. The result is a very rich and creamy product that truly everyone can enjoy.

My Butter Pecan cone probably doubled that butterfat percentage, as you might assume by the fact that it’s got butter in the name. It was an excessively rich treat that was a quick eat and didn’t sit in my stomach like a leaden balloon. While the nuts didn’t have the freshness of a homemade ice cream, there were still large chunks that were integrated throughout. It was so creamy that you really may have assumed that you were eating a frozen stick of butter, but that density is what makes the cone as interesting as it is.

The goal of Oberweis is “not just another ice cream,” and it compares favorably to other regional dairy chains like Brigham’s and Hood. The high quality of the milk and cream used in their ice cream shines through, and is the most memorable part of this shop. While I wouldn’t come here exclusively, I would sign myself up for the milk delivery if I lived near enough, but they’ve got nothing east of Michigan.

In addition to the ice cream, Oberweis offers both iced and frozen lattes, and smoothies with yogurt or sherbet bases. They’ve got a dozen classic ice cream flavors and others that rotate availability, as well as new flavors that pop up on the menu.  They even try to compete with DQ’s Blizzard with a soft serve ice cream with mix-ins that they call the Frostbite. And for those that yearn for the era when Oberweis opened up their first store there’s a root beer or Coca Cola float.

Cone – kids $1.99 small $2.79 large $3.89

Sundae – regular $3.99 large $4.99

Shakes and malts – 16oz $4.99

Oberweis Dairy

60 Ogden Ave, Downers Grove, IL 60515

(630) 810-1270

Open year round

7 Days a Week – 10a-11p


Dairy Queen – Downers Grove IL

3 07 2008

Nothing changes the nature of how you approach any food like the people that you’re eating with. Just as most people aren’t apt to hack into a side of beef when hanging around a bunch of vegans, not everyone has the same approach to ice cream. Like a two year old. As my nephew told me when we first discussed ice cream, he prefers a regular. That meant chocolate ice cream, and the soft serve of Dairy Queen seemed the best place to provide a control for his reactions. I followed suit and got a soft Chocolate cone (his was just in a cup).

DQ is the sort of place that defies all of the rules of ice cream. For a product that is often homemade, or at least ruled by local dairies, there are nearly 6000 stores around the world. The dense creamy texture of most ice cream also goes out the window in a place that developed the soft serve back in 1938. Most places don’t have any hard pack at all.

The first Dairy Queen store was opened in 1940 in Joliet, Illinois, so it seems fitting that we go to sample their wares at a store less than an hour’s drive from there. For many this is like the McDonald’s of ice cream: pervasive and inexpensive, not the highest quality, but something that you can rely on and know just what you’re going to get when you go there. The prices for DQ products are remarkably cheap in this day and age, though often the portion size is commensurate with those prices.

The chocolate ice cream cone was everything I recall from evenings after baseball games in the summer. The chocolate flavor is almost all drowned out by sweetness, and resembles a store brand hot chocolate in it’s general blandness. I’d be shocked to learn that the flavor has any actual cocoa bean in it. Since the soft serve is based on a mix, the texture is consistent and really defines this type of ice cream. No sugar cone is offered, and the wafer cone seems a bit more like styrofoam than anything I should actually be eating.

Something this tepid seems as though it’s only goal is not to offend. In America, that’s just the sort of product that can be mass marketed, and have stores pop up everywhere. And in truth, DQ does just what it has always claimed that it will do: “We Treat You Right.” Don’t expect your horizons expanded, but do give them props for spreading the gospel of ice cream to towns big and small in over 20 countries.

While DQ only offers vanilla or chocolate cones, what they do excel at is making shakes and malts and Blizzards. Mixing their soft serve with every imaginable confection, this is an ice cream that is at it’s best when it is made into a different form. The company itself refers to it’s menu not as ice cream, but as treats, and if you do something with what they offer, it can sate the sweetest sweet tooth.

Cone – small $1.59 regular $1.99 large $2.29

Sundae – regular $1.89 medium $2.49 large$2.99

Shakes and malts – small $2.29 medium $2.79 large $3.59

Dairy Queen

6240 Main St, Downers Grove, IL‎ 60515

(630) 852-2246

Open year round

Monday-Saturday 10a-11p, Sunday 11a-11p