Zesto Ice Cream
- Josh Tuck
- Danielle Tuck
As a kid growing up in Indiana, the only thing that really cut the heat of the steamy summer months was ice cream. Where we ended up usually depended on the nature of our visit to Fort Wayne. A stop at the mall always meant ducking into Breslers 33 Flavors for a scoop of orange sherbet on a sugar cone, and then eating it as sloppily as possible by the mall fountain. If we had brought our bikes in for a ride on the Rivergreenway, I knew my reward would be a scoop of strawberry or chocolate ice cream, again on a sugar cone, from the Atz location on Tilman Road. Curiously, even though there was a soft-serve ice cream shop in our little hometown of Churubusco, The Magic Wand, we rarely went there. There was a beautiful order to our ice cream universe, except for one wild card. No matter what we were doing, or where we were in town, it took very little convincing on my part to get my parents to take me to Zesto.
All those other places simply could not compete with the velvety smooth soft-serve ice cream from Zesto. Back then, my parents and I were addicts, and to this day, Zesto is still one of Danielle and my favorite places to grab an ice cream cone on a date night. Occasionally, we visit one of the many other good, local options for ice cream. La Michoacana is right down the street from us and we love their Mexican flavors such as tequila and mango. Or, if we are feeling particularly fancy, we will make a run to Cold Stone Creamery. Most of the time though, a simple chocolate or vanilla soft-serve cone from Zesto, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, is what sounds the best.
The new Zestos are convenient, but the original location on Broadway is where to go for the real neighborhood experience. Under the fifty-year-old neon sign and bright blue awning, people from all walks of life line up on warm summer evenings for a cold treat. A handful of cute girls, in their simple uniforms of blue Zesto t-shirts and white shorts, quickly and cheerfully fill orders. Families and couples hang out by their cars, or on the curb, to work on their cones, shakes, and sundaes, while watching the parade of motorcycles, modified cars, and bicyclists.
While the menu has grown to offer a treat for every sweet tooth, Danielle and I still go for the original Zesto soft-serve. Through some kind of sorcery, they make their ice cream smoother and silkier than any of their competitors. I’m sure it has something to do with whole milk, or butter milk, or worse. Frankly, the less I know about how they do what they do, the better. I’m happier just enjoying my ice cream and not worrying about the marathon I will have to run to work it off.
I’ll Have My Usual
It seems like everyone has their favorite item at Zesto. My Dad, and now Danielle, are both fans of vanilla sundaes with raspberry and chocolate sauces. However, not one to back away from a challenge, Danielle occasionally indulges in a medium chocolate cone dipped in chocolate. I never cared for the chocolate dip option because the ice cream would melt underneath it, seep out, and shamefully cover my hands in wasted ice cream. To watch her deftly pick off flakes of chocolate and expertly lick away the ice cream before it melts is a spellbinding reminder of why I married her in the first place.
For my $1.85, a medium twist cone always fits the bill. That’s not to imply that I am indecisive on picking a flavor, it just seems like the only logical choice. If chocolate and vanilla can be had in one cone, why choose anything else? When I was little, I remember being mystified by how they could fill half the cone with chocolate, then the other half with vanilla, and line up the twisted texture so perfectly! Mom or Dad would snap me back to reality by threatening to take a bite of my ice cream cone, and only then would I actually eat the thing.
The Pull of Nostalgia
I don’t claim to have a wealth of stories from trips to Zesto. After all, I was there for the business of eating ice cream. However, there is no denying all those repeat visits as a kid have put Zesto on a figurative pedestal in my mind. One of the funnier memories I do have is of the time we went through the drive-thru on a particularly hot summer night. A thunderstorm was blowing in faster than we realized, and just as we placed our order, a torrential rain suddenly came down. Right as we started to drive away, the driver’s side window shorted out in the full down position. Rain was pouring in, ice cream was melting, and the only thing dad could do was pull forward into the full brunt of the storm. Dad took a good soaking, so he didn’t immediately see the humor in the situation, but Mom and I had to stuff our mouths with ice cream to contain our laughter.
These days, a visit (or two, or five) to Zesto each summer is a must; if not simply to cool off with a medium twist cone, than to keep old memories alive – and possibly make some new ones. We might be lured away to different places occasionally, but we can’t escape the siren song of Zesto. Nothing compares to their ice cream and hanging out with the other locals under the neon ice cream cone on Broadway.