There’s an old expression that states, “As a rule, we are fools. When it’s hot, we want it cool. When it’s cool we want it hot. We’re always wanting what is not.” In Wisconsin, we can easily apply this to our collective mindset when the weather isn’t agreeable—which it often isn’t. During our summer months is when we need ice cream the most. At Willy Street Co-op, we have numerous brands of ice cream and ice cream alternatives that can quickly take you from a scorching July day to an arctic January day with a single scoop. And a scoop may be all you need to remind yourself that summer, although fleeting, is why ice cream was invented.

Sassy Cow
While the origins of ice cream are still being debated, as is the rumor that Two Rivers, Wisconsin is where the ice cream sundae was created, one thing is certain: in Wisconsin, ice cream is as ubiquitous as beer. Our first company, Sassy Cow, is one of several Wisconsin-based companies that help define the state’s rich and creamy ice cream heritage. Located in Columbus, the Sassy Cow Creamery is owned by two brothers who both graduated from UW-Madison. They are also the third generation in their family to farm their land since it was purchased in 1946. Willy Street Co-op carries several of their flavors, including Chocolate Bliss, Coffee, Arctic Mint Fudge and Milk Chocolate.

The Chocolate Shoppe
Like its sassy neighbor in the frozen section, Chocolate Shoppe ice cream is the archetypal after-dinner or sweltering summer day ice cream treat. This family-owned company began in 1962 and is located in Madison. There are ten flavors to choose—from Zanzibar Chocolate to Peanut Butter Cup to Butter Pecan. Now, if you’re health conscious when it comes to your ice cream, The Chocolate Shoppe makes no qualms about its products. Their label says, “Don’t even ask. This is the best ice cream made in Wisconsin, and it tastes so good because it has gobs of rich Wisconsin cream, tons of real ingredients for boatloads of luscious flavors. That means it’s not low-fat, low-calorie or low-anything, and that’s why everyone loves it. You want nutrition, eat carrots.” So there you have it!

An Alternative    
The name of our next company, Arctic Zero, sounds perfect for a steamy summer day, especially if traditional ice cream is not agreeable with your system. Marketed as a frozen dessert, this Southern California company offers fat-free, non-GMO and low glycemic treats that also pack 14 grams of whey protein per pint, not to mention only 150 calories. In 2009, the makers of Arctic Zero wanted, “to offer families across America a low-calorie dessert that would allow them to indulge in their frozen sweet tooth cravings without sacrificing a healthy lifestyle.” This is a dessert you can put in a cone, make a sundae with, or just eat straight from the pint as your taste buds enjoy winter in the middle of July. Willy Street Co-op offers a variety of their flavors, including Coffee, Vanilla Maple, and Mint Chocolate Cookie.

Coconut Bliss
Just like it sounds, this Eugene, Oregon company makes a frozen dessert that tastes like ice cream, but instead of milk, they use organic coconut milk. The result is a creamy, low-glycemic dessert that’s also vegan and gluten-free. Their chocolate walnut brownie, for example, contains brownies made with organic rice flour, xantham gum, and organic walnuts. Coconut Bliss also has a user-friendly website with numerous testimonials. Willy Street Co-op carries seven flavors: Mint Galactica, Dark Chocolate, Cherry Amaretto, Chocolate Fudge, Vanilla Island, Chocolate Walnut Brownie, and Naked. Now who doesn’t like naked in July?

Argentinean Gelato
If Italian-style ice cream, or gelato, is more to your liking, you can thank the Florentine artist Bernardo Buontalenti for inventing it. You can also thank entrepreneur Josh Hochschuler for creating Talenti, the gelato company that pays homage to the inventor. But Hochschuler didn’t get his passion for gelato in Italy; he found it while apprenticing at a gelato business in Buenos Aires. Talenti, staying true to the Argentinean recipe, uses pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Talenti’s gelato also contains 30 percent less fat than traditional ice cream. In addition, they make a sorbetto that’s dairy and fat-free. Willy Street Co-op offers numerous flavors like Banana Chocolate Swirl and Argentine Caramel that can transport you from a mosquito metropolis to the Paris of the South in a single, delicious bite. ¡Ahora que es un buen helado!

Ciao Bella Sorbet
Our last company, Ciao Bella, is the newest addition to the freezer, but this sorbet company is having no problem fitting in with the other tasty treats. Their products are sweetened with tapioca syrup for a lower glycemic index and have been praised by Zagat in New York City for years. Eight cool-me-down-quickly flavors are available at Willy Street Co-op, including Blood Orange, Passion Fruit, Wild Blueberry and Raspberry. Ciao Bella means “Hello Beautiful” in Italian, which is the likely response you’ll have after grabbing a pint from our frozen section during a muggy Wisconsin July.

Now is the perfect time to sample the numerous ice cream and ice cream alternatives at Willy Street Co-op. Yes, ice cream is a year-round treat, but there is something cathartic about it during our summer months. When the days are long and the sun is relentless, we can find ourselves again with a spoon and a cool friend.

Liz LauerParadigm