Ice cream on Martha’s Vineyard is an essential part of any trip, especially if you are visiting during the warmer spring and summer months. It’s refreshing, deliciously made, and a summer tradition. Below, we’re sharing a little information on the history of ice cream!
“Ice cream's origins are known to reach back as far as the second century B.C., although no specific date of origin nor inventor has been indisputably credited with its discovery. We know that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Biblical references also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvesting. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86) frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.
Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what is now called sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century. England seems to have discovered ice cream at the same time, or perhaps even earlier than the Italians. "Cream Ice," as it was called, appeared regularly at the table of Charles I during the 17th century. France was introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France. It wasn't until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public. The Sicilian Procopio introduced a recipe blending milk, cream, butter and eggs at Café Procope, the first café in Paris.” - The Evolution of Ice Cream, by the International Dairy Foods Association
On island, we have ice cream and frozen yogurt shops throughout all six towns and below we’ve listed some of our faves, the town where you can find the shop, and our favorite flavors in each shop! We hope you have a chance to do your own ice cream tasting this season - please let us know your favorites!
1. Ben and Bills
Located in Oak Bluffs, Ben and Bills has flavors galore! It’s no wonder they were recently recognized as the top spot for ice cream in New England. Must try flavor? Lobster ice cream. Yep, butter flavored ice cream with real lobster in it.
2. Bernie’s Ice Cream
Located in Vineyard Haven and one of the few ice cream shops that actually makes their ice cream right on-island, Bernie’s Ice Cream is perhaps the creamiest ice cream on Martha’s Vineyard. The owners attended Ice Cream University – that’s a real thing! – before opening up a few years ago. They’ve quickly become a favorite among Island residents and visitors. Ice cream flavors to taste: Coffee Oreo, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
3. Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream
Located in all three main port towns, Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream is an award-winning ice cream shop that creates some of the most interesting flavor combinations on island! Ice cream flavors to taste: Lemon Blueberry Cake and Shark Attack.
4. Scoop Shack
Located in Edgartown, the Scoop Shack makes all of their ice cream from scratch and also adds to the list of offerings, a unique one: Hawaiian Shaved Ice! They have flavors like green tea flavored ice cream with organic local island honey, mint and crumbled ginger snaps, that will surely delight your senses! Ice cream flavors to taste: Lemon Lavender and Mexican Hot Chocolate.
5. Rosie’s Frozen Yogurt
Located in Oak Bluffs, Rosie’s Frozen Yogurt is a newcomer to the ice cream scene on Martha’s Vineyard, but an already loved one! The Island's only self-serve frozen yogurt store, featuring 8 flavors and over 30 toppings. Frozen yogurt flavors to taste: Berry Acai Sorbet and Original Tart.
6. Tisberry Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies
Located in Vineyard Haven, Tisberry Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies is the Island’s first fro-yo shop. They offer a great selection of flavors for frozen yogurt along with toppings, but it’s also a great spot for fruit smoothies on a hot summer day. Frozen yogurt flavors to taste: Coconut and Original Tart.
8. Soft Serve Specialties: Dairy Queen, Sandy’s Fish & Chips, Net Result, and Menemsha Galley
For the soft-served lovers out there, Martha's Vineyard has you covered. The opening of Dairy Queen in Edgartown is a sure sign the season is about to start. The line of kids snakes around the shop on opening day and the excitement is palpable among kids and parents alike. The local newspapers even cover opening day at DQ! And other soft-serve options can be found at our local fried fish take-out joints. Both Sandy's Fish & Chips and Net Result in Vineyard Haven offer soft serve for dessert, and so does Menemsha Galley in — you guessed it — Menemsha!
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