One of the hottest franchises in the food business, Cold Stone Creamery, is an ice cream store/restaurant featuring hard ice cream mixed on a "cold stone" with an assortment of mix-ins such as chocolate chips, Kit Kat pieces, brownies and cookies. Crowds of couples, teenagers and parents with toddlers press up against the long refrigerated display case at Cold Stone dessert chain, where a variety of ice creams, frozen yogurts and sorbets are made in-store daily.
Customers choose flavors like sweet cream, cake batter or banana, add mix-ins then servers mash it all together on a frozen slab of granite. The ice cream is rich in taste and you can add an almost endless choice of "toppings". You can create your own "flavor" by choosing a base ice cream, including cake batter, mint, cheesecake, etc., and then adding a bunch of mix-ins. Or you can choose from a list of flavors "created" by the store, all with cutesy names like "Cookie Doughn't You Want Some" and "Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip."
There's always a line. The Cold Stone creamery store in Millbury, Massachusetts, for instance once had a 6-7 person line in the middle of a 15-degree night in January! That's how good the ice cream is. There's the cutesy size ordering system. Instead of ordering a small, medium or large dish of ice cream, Cold Stone has sizes called "Like It" (small), "Love It" (medium) and "Gotta Have It!" (large). You can say "give me a medium," but sometimes the employee tries to trick you into saying the cutesy size.
The singing is the coolest Cold Stone feature. If you throw a tip into the tip jar one staff member will shout out, "Hey, we got a tip!" and the rest of the staff will shout, "Oh Yay!" and then everyone bursts into song for a few seconds while they continue to work. Usually it's a song about how great the ice cream is at Cold Stone, set to a familiar tune with lines like "Cold Stone! Here at Cold Stone! Making ice cream is our speci-al-tee."
At a time when most food product companies and restaurants are riding the low-carb tsunami, it's interesting to note that one of the fastest growing private companies is built around rich, creamy, calorie-laden ice cream. While family friendly, the Cold Stone Company admits that its target audience is not ice cream's traditional focus of kids, but rather 18 to 34 year old women.
Cold Stone Creamery is a very indulgent brand: it's a super premium ice cream. The company does offer low and no-fat options - like sorbet and yogurt. There are also low and no-fat mix-in options like fruits. But that's not what drives the business. It's really the ice cream lovers who want to take that ten-minute vacation and really indulge and enjoy themselves.
The Cold Stone' tradition of quality ice cream, served by friendly people, in a fun-filled environment has spread to over 1,000 stores across the country, with more than 1,000 additional stores now under development. You definitely won't find a better selection of ice cream or "mix-ins" anywhere. Do not miss the cake batter flavored ice cream!