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Bellingham
Friday, December 4, 2020

Bellingham screams for ice cream

Nothing hits the spot on a scorching summer day quite like a refreshing scoop of ice cream. From frozen yogurt to gelato, Bellingham has enough variety to keep any ice cream enthusiast busy all summer long.

Mallard Ice Cream, located downtown on Railroad Avenue, is a staple in Bellingham. Mallard uses salt and ice churns to make their ice cream, creating a different texture than typical ice cream which is produced in batch freezers, owner Ben Scholtz said.

Scholtz has owned Mallard Ice Cream since 2001, when he bought the business after working under the previous owner.

“To me, the foundation of Mallard is that all of the flavors that we make come into the shop as real food,” Scholtz said. “Because we have a large and versatile kitchen, it means we aren’t using any syrups, flavorings or preprocessed foods.”

Scholtz said they make seasonal flavors based on what types of produce are in season. Currently, Mallard is working with rhubarb because it just came into season. In the fall, Scholtz said they roast pumpkins to make a seasonal pumpkin flavor. When making their strawberry ice cream, Scholtz said they aim to purchase strawberries picked the same day they are frozen into ice cream.

ACME Ice Cream, which is produced at the downtown Rocket Donuts location on Holly Street, also prides themselves on working with fresh, local ingredients. Sales and Marketing Manager Steve Grichel said ACME ice cream is considered a “super premium” ice cream that uses high quality ingredients.

“To me, the foundation of Mallard is that all of the flavors that we make come into the shop as real food. Because we have a large and versatile kitchen, it means we aren’t using any syrups, flavorings or preprocessed foods.”

Ben Scholtz, owner of Mallard’s Ice Cream

“The big difference with our ice cream is we don’t add any air to our ice cream,” Grichel said. “Most ice cream on the market is probably 30 to 50 percent air.”

He said if you hold a pint of ACME ice cream and a typical pint from the grocery store, there is a significant weight difference.

“When they scoop it, it almost looks like taffy,” Grichel said. “Because of the high fat content and no air, it is an incredibly rich ice cream.”

He said even though ACME ice cream has higher calorie and fat content than other ice creams, the richness causes customers to get more servings out of a pint and therefore take in less calories per serving.

If you’re more calorie-conscious, Sirena Gelato Shop might be your preferred frozen dessert destination. Robin Ugurlu, who owns the business with her son Brian, said gelato has a much lower fat content and fewer calories than traditional ice cream. She said instead of using heavy cream, they use milk to make gelato.

Ugurlu said her son Brian was trained by a third-generation gelato maker and was originally making the gelato in-house. After their first year, they got so busy they had to start producing their gelato at Edaleen Dairy, which is also their milk supplier.

Instead of putting any money toward advertising, Ugurlu said the business donates to almost 400 charities per year. She said using business resources for community outreach instead of advertising has definitely had a positive effect on their business.

Ugurlu said she purposely only employs Western students. She said she posts job openings on the Western website and never has a hard time filling an open position.

A healthier alternative to ice cream, depending on the toppings you choose, is frozen yogurt. Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, a chain business, has two locations in Bellingham. Both locations are owned and operated by Penn Miniken and Dayna Penney, and the couple purchased Menchie’s rights to Bellingham about a week after Dayna had visited a Menchie’s location in Lynnwood for the first time. 

Penn said as a Western alumnus, he always wanted to move back to Bellingham to raise his family here. He said after learning about Menchie’s, they instantly believed in the product, the experience and the way the brand was being run. 

Menchie’s is a self-serve frozen yogurt store, meaning customers fill their own bowl with as much frozen yogurt as they want and then chose from over 60 toppings. Penn said they focus on providing top-notch customer service to help make the process as easy as possible.

Even though Menchie’s is a franchise business, Penn said they get their milk from a single source, Scott Brothers Dairy, a family owned dairy farm in California. He said Scott Brothers Dairy supplies all the American Menchie’s locations.

All of the businesses interviewed for this story offer dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan options as well as free samples. The thriving ice cream scene in Bellingham has something to offer any potential customer looking for a treat.

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