An affinity. A cult-following. Some might even call it an obsession. If you’ve lived in Cincinnati for any length of time, chances are you can distinctly evoke the taste of blue ice cream, a blueberry-based soft serve — although the actual name of the flavor is just “blue” — and quintessential Queen City treat. Introduced by Kings Island in 1982 to promote a then-new Smurfs ride in the park’s Hanna-Barbera Land, the ice cream has become one of the city’s most iconic and sought-after eats, on par with Skyline Chili, LaRosa’s pizza and a rack of Montgomery Inn ribs.
Unfortunately, admission to KI is a steep price to pay when a craving for blue ice cream hits. But in recent years, more and more local shops have carved out a spot for the flavor on their menus — with near-instant best-selling results.
“This is a form of nostalgia that so many people can partake in,” says Joe Fields, owner of Maineville seasonal ice cream shop Whipty-Do!, where blue ice cream makes up a large percentage of sales. “We have parents introducing their babies to it for the first time — we are regularly told, ‘This is their first blue ice cream!’ — people who haven’t had it in 15 years and people who just had it yesterday. For this city, this is true happiness in ice cream form.”
The history of the treat is as rich as its flavor, and whether you grab a cone at KI or order a cup at a creamy whip window, there’s a story to be told behind your blue ice cream of choice. And although flavors and textures vary slightly at each location — with many shops implementing special (and secret) twists — the treats taste nearly identical, staying faithful to the amusement park’s true-blue recipe.
The Scoop: Since the public first got its hands on this renowned cone in 1982, KI’s blue ice cream has remained a summertime staple; the park’s brief hiatus from the treat in 1993 drew so many complaints that serving resumed in July of the very same season. Originally used to promote a Smurfs Enchanted Voyage ride in Hanna-Barbera Land, the ice cream has deftly ridden out the ride’s subsequent incarnations as The Phantom Theater (1991-2003), Scooby Doo & The Haunted Castle (2003-2009) and today’s Boo Blasters on Boo Hill attraction.
The Cone: The park’s classic blueberry soft serve put blue ice cream on the radar, and it’s maintained its cravability ever since — leaving the park without having one is a sin. Get it plain, doused in rainbow sprinkles or swirled with creamy vanilla at locations across the park. 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, 513-754-5700, visitkingsisland.com.
Putz's Creamy Whip
The Scoop: When Putz’s Creamy Whip first began serving blue ice cream almost a decade ago, it was only available to customers every other weekend. The flavor was so popular its very first year that Putz’s replaced an old machine with a new one that was able to keep up with the high demand, allowing the ice cream to be served on a daily basis. Opened in 1938, the creamy whip is located just off Interstate 74 and features an adjacent grassy area filled with picnic tables, making it a bustling and accessible location to swing by and get your fix.
The Cone: Try Putz’s blue ice cream plain, in a sundae, with a dip top or on a sugar or waffle cone. Pair it with one of Putz’s hot dog or sandwich options, which include coneys, metts and vegetarian garden burgers, plus chips, nachos, pretzels and more. 2673 Putz Drive, East Westwood, 513-681-8668, putzscreamywhip.com.
The Scoop: Whipty-Do! opened its doors in May of 2009, when owners Joe and Kristen Fields turned their love of ice cream into a colorful brick-and-mortar shop. They began serving blue ice cream in 2010, and customers drive from as far as Columbus and Indianapolis to stock up on the stuff with coolers and dry ice in tow. “People lose their minds on the rare day we don’t have it — less than once a season for a myriad of factors,” Joe says. “I’m talking grown adults crying and swearing.” Fields adds that the ice cream is by far Whipty-Do!’s number-one item, making up a large percentage of business in its various forms, which range from cones, sundaes and milkshakes to portable pints and quarts.
The Cone: Customers tend to get creative with their Whipty-Do! blue ice cream concoctions, taking advantage of the shop’s many topping offerings like rainbow sprinkles, chocolate dip, hot fudge and Fruity Pebbles. Swirl it with vanilla and add a homemade waffle cone or try it in its “iceberg” incarnation — a base of blue ice cream topped with any flavor of slushie (cherry, orange, lime, grape, blue raspberry or strawberry). 2529 Montgomery Road, Maineville, 513-774-0200, whipty-do.com.
Mount Healthy Dairy Bar
The Scoop: Mount Healthy Dairy Bar, a quaint, seasonal shop in operation since 1958, serves its own blue ice cream — a concoction that uses the same ingredients as Kings Island with an additional “special twist,” according to owners Mark and Tricia Brisker. “It is very popular and a top choice for many customers, young or old,” Mark says. “We have had people drive from all over the city for it.”
The Cone: Ranging in size from small to “monster,” Mount Healthy’s Big Blue Cone can be customized with sprinkles or a dip top, the latter of which comes in fun flavors like butterscotch, cotton candy and cake batter. A word of advice: “monster” is their smallest-sized cone — “Our sizes are very large, and people are pleasantly surprised,” Mark says. 7840 Hamilton Ave., Mount Healthy, 513-522-1288, searchable on Facebook.
Gold Top Dairy Bar
The Scoop: There is no illusion as to why this dairy barn is named Gold Top: It has a bright yellow-gold peaked roof. Although the history is a little vague, Gold Top has been a favorite of the White Oak area since it was built in 1968. In the late 1990s, Marilyn Tenhundfeld of The Goody Shop reestablished Gold Top and helped it become what it is today. Jen Davis, Gold Top’s current owner, purchased it in 2003. For Davis — a business management grad from UC and former employee of Miami Township’s Angelo’s Creamy Whip — this was a dream come true. “I don’t know any other job where I get to work six months and then get six months off to be a mom so it’s a perfect job,” she says. Davis says she also loves Gold Top for the people. Parents take their kids to her creamy whip to celebrate good grades or victories after sports games; families bring their furry campions; and young couples are often found sitting outside the creamy whip on a causal date.
The Cone: Gold Top is known for its famous blue raspberry ice cream, which often is just described as tasting “blue,” but the flavor also has hints of raspberry and vanilla. Outside of soft serve, they also offer a wide assortment of customizable cakes, housemade chocolate-covered bananas, cookies, chipwhiches (picture a cookie ice cream sandwich) and more. Gold Top has something for pups, too: They make dogs treats in house with yogurt, peanut butter and bananas. 2810 Blue Rock Road, White Oak, goldtopdairybar.com.