Last week, my friend and I made a last-minute decision to drive out to Punxsutawney, PA, from New York City, to check out the Groundhog Day festivities. Yes, it may seem quirky, but how could we pass up the opportunity to experience a uniquely American tradition? Involving a cute, cuddly creature? And top hats?? All it entailed was the stamina to drive through the night for five hours and stand outside in the zero-degree cold for almost two hours with 10,000+ revelers.
Sounds exciting, right? Well, what with the fireworks and a guest appearance by the actor Stephen Tobolowsky from the movie “Groundhog Day” making his bellybutton whistle (yes, I was confused too – but it’s a reference to the movie) and the kooky and cute groundhog-themed costumes and hats, it was rather entertaining — we even got a photo with the famous Punxsutawney Phil! And to sweeten the deal, on our way home we made a stop in State College, PA, to visit two century-old establishments known for their freshly made ice cream.
First up (after a 3-hour nap in the car) was Meyer Dairy, currently owned by Joseph C. Meyer, Jr, grandson of W.C. Meyer, who purchased the first Meyer farm back in 1887. Fresh milk was delivered by a milk wagon (which can be found inside the dining area – maybe it’s a replica?) starting in 1910, and the Meyers continued delivering milk in the area until 1947. The current building was constructed in 1970 and has the feel of a small general store, selling milk in glass jars (including chocolate and strawberry milk!) and eggs produced on the farms located behind the dairy. Of course, the star attraction for me was the ice cream counter, front and center.
Before ordering a cone (priced at an unbelievable $1.75!), I sampled four flavors. Since I am generally a fan of mint flavors, I requested to try their two mint offerings. As she handed me two spoons, the friendly staffer expressed great enthusiasm for “mint crispy”, which tasted like peppermint candy cane ice cream, except there were no candy cane bits (or maybe I just didn’t get any) – instead it was as though the candy cane was melted down and swirled into the ice cream. The flavor was refreshing and very minty. The staffer herself didn’t like the “mint chocolate flake” flavor very much, but I found it to be a pretty standard version of mint chocolate chip. Next I tasted “blackberry”, hoping that it would fulfill my craving for Graeter’s blackberry chip ice cream. It had a pleasantly fruity flavor, but I thought the aftertaste was a little too milky – I would have liked the blackberry taste to linger a little longer. My last sample ended up being my flavor of choice – chocolate peanut butter. I challenge anyone to find something wrong with that flavor combination. It was delicious – just the right amount of both flavors, not too sweet, smooth and creamy.Two flavors to take note of: “Grapenut”, which I imagine to be ice cream embedded with those hard little crunchy nuggets of fiber, and “Teaberry”, which I was told was bright pink and tasted like Pepto Bismol. That’s a winning endorsement if I’ve ever heard one.
If you need a Meyer Dairy fix in the middle of the night, half gallon sizes of most flavors are available for purchase. And if you want a double-dose of sweetness and prefer your ice cream in sandwich form, two sizes are available – the smaller one appears to be vanilla ice cream scooped between two thin chocolate cookies, and the large one is the size of a softball and uses chocolate-chip cookies as its bun of choice.
Stay tuned for the next post about Berkey Creamery at Penn State!
Here’s the rundown:
2390 South Atherton Street
State College, PA 16801-7613
Hours: Sun – Thur 8:30am – 10:00pm, Fri – Sat 8:30am – 11:00pm