It’s hard for me to say the words “ice cream” without smiling. Ice cream has been one of my favorite things for as long as I can remember. You might not think this is unusual, given that most kids like ice cream. But the big difference in our family was that not only did my brothers and sisters love ice cream, but so did my dad. In our house, this meant that ice cream was not reserved for special occasions but was a nightly (yes, that’s right, nightly) treat – winter or summer, rain or shine. I often joke with people that ice cream was not dessert but a “food group” at our house. So I can safely claim a certain expertise when it comes to ice cream, and in my opinion Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company has something truly special.
My dad was recently visiting me in Washington State from Ohio (he just celebrated his 83rd birthday and still loves ice cream, although he now only eats it occasionally), so there was no one better to join me on a “Local Forager” trip to the town of Langley on Whidbey Island to visit with Ron and Florence Hecker. The Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company was started in 2005 by friends of Ron and Florence. At the time, Ron and Florence were retired and traveling in their motor home. But they loved visiting their friends on Whidbey Island and began helping them out by selling ice cream at the Ballard Farmer’s Market in Seattle one day each week. They found they loved interacting with the customers and in 2009, Ron and Florence assumed ownership of the business and have continued to improve and expand operations.
What makes their ice cream so special? It starts with using only the highest quality ingredients, like an ice cream mix that has higher-than-usual butterfat content (18%), which gives the ice cream a luxuriously smooth and creamy texture. The ice cream is made in small batches and everything is done by hand, including hand-dipping their bars in semi-dark Cocoa Rouge Guittard Chocolate. Believe me, there is no waxy aftertaste when you eat one of these bars. In his continuing quest to use only the finest ingredients, Ron recently started using CB’s Nuts Peanut Butter (another Washington State product) in his peanut butter ice cream. If you love peanut butter and know the quality of CB’s Nuts, you don’t want to miss out on this flavor.
You can find Whidbey Island Ice Cream bars and pints at Whole Foods Market stores in Washington state. They'll soon be in Oregon, and hopefully will be expanding to other regions, too. It’s the perfect treat for the 4th of July or any summer day. I scream, you scream, my dad screams, we all scream for Whidbey Island Ice Cream and for the love and passion that Ron, Florence and the rest of their family share with all of us!