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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

We all scream for ice cream

Friday, July 7, 2006

Christopher Hart, 4, enjoys Superhero ice cream.
SIKESTON -- Americans are known for their love of hamburgers and hot dogs. Another great love is ice cream, which then-president Ronald Reagan recognized in 1984 when he designated July as national ice cream month.

And that love is just as strong in Sikeston. Singles and families frequent shops as a tradition after sporting events or church, or just to enjoy the sweet taste that literally melts in their mouths.

At Houchins Ice Cream, customers can choose from over 40 flavors of ice cream, which can then be made into several different treats, said Sherry Johnson, owner.

And although chocolate and vanilla are the only flavors sold at Dairy Queen, those can make a plethora of frosty treats, with Blizzards being the most popular. "If we put Blizzards on sale, then people go crazy on them," said Lee Pemberton, manager. But when simply comparing chocolate and vanilla, vanilla is more popular.

Chocolate, on the other hand, is the biggest seller at Houchins, followed by vanilla and butter pecan.

For children, the top ice cream flavors are a bit different. Kids enjoy making a mess, so Superhero, which will change the color of their tongue, is a huge hit at Houchins, Johnson said of the red, yellow and blue vanilla-flavored treat. "I think they like that the best," she said.

And for little girls, cotton candy tops the list. "A lot of girls pick that because it's pink," Johnson explained.

Additionally, mint chip and fat-free or non-sugar flavors are high in demand at Houchins. Johnson said the store tries to stock different types of sorbets, which are easier for people having chemotherapy treatments. "It doesn't have a milk base to it," she noted.

Pemberton said the Blizzard of the Month at Dairy Queen, which is only sold for a limited time, is often high in demand. But other popular picks include the Oreo Blizzard overall; and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for kids.

Johnson said that ice cream is popular year-round, but sales definitely pick up when the weather gets warmer. "Whenever it starts turning spring," she said.

Pemberton agreed. "Usually when school gets out is when we see our business pick up the most," he said. For instance, the restaurant goes through about 25 gallons of ice cream mix a day during the winter, but has been selling about 50 gallons a day -- close to 400 gallons each week -- recently.

Both Houchins and Dairy Queen get a lot of business from travelers, too.

Getting ice cream is a special treat for families, Pemberton has observed. "It's something out of the ordinary for them to do on a special occasion," he said, adding business is crazy on weekends.

It's the same at Houchins. Often on weekend nights, groups will come in after going out to dinner, Johnson noted. In afternoons, people will come in groups or alone to sit down and enjoy the frosty treats. In fact, a popular noontime dessert is coffee or cappuccino flavored ice cream. "They like the coffee flavor," she said.

Some customers will even buy their ice cream in bulk. "They'll get it for a birthday party or something like that," Johnson said.

And how do people eat their ice cream? Some will get it in a cone, others in a dish.

Others will eat banana splits, brownie delights, dipped cones and sundaes.

And still others get creative and invent their own dish. Johnson said several customers will order a dish and put syrup on top, like mint chip with chocolate syrup or butter pecan with caramel drizzled on top.

"How many places can you have something like that?" she asked.