Ice Cream Capital of the World?
When you envision the Ice Cream Capital of the World, what comes to mind? The best ice cream you ever tasted? More ice cream than you’ve ever seen? New flavors that blow your mind? Ice cream trivia, memorabilia, history, games, and fun? Maybe an opportunity to build your own sundae?
Well, as it turns out, Le Mars, Iowa, was designated the Ice Cream Capital of the World in 1994 because the tiny town is home to Wells Enterprises, Inc., makers of Blue Bunny ice cream, and more ice cream is produced in Le Mars by a single company than any other city in the world.
OK. So it’s the Budweiser of ice cream. That doesn’t make it good. Or even interesting.
I have to say that I’ve had Le Mars on my list of places to visit for a long, long time. I stopped there recently on my way back to Ames after traveling to North and South Dakota. I am really glad I didn’t make a special trip.
Basically, all you’ll find in the Ice Cream Capital of the World is a Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, in which you can order a cup or cone filled with the same ice cream that you can buy every day in your local grocery store. (I had caramel chocolate cashew something-or-other.) The ice cream parlor is sort of old-fashioned, but not that cool. After you eat your cone, you can shop in the adjacent gift shop, filled with promotional T-shirts, ice cream bowls, rubber cows, cookbooks, aprons, candles, and other random stuff.
Upstairs is a museum, but not much of one. There are Blue Bunny logos (the original one is pretty cool), signs, and clocks; some historic photographs; cartons of Wells products through the ages; and a few newspaper clippings. There’s also a looped video showing on a TV screen that I didn’t watch – it seemed more like a Blue Bunny commercial than anything historic or interesting.
Really? This year is the 100th anniversary of Wells dairy. The signs are everywhere, but where’s the party? I expected so much more.
All in all, it was a giant yawner. And it made me nostalgic for the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury, Vt. Now THAT was a good time!