A Deep Dive into Ice Cream in Utah

Even before Wallace Stevens penned the poem “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” in 1992, ice cream had long been a beloved sweet treat — a favorite of America’s founding fathers — served at many occasions (thankfully, not just at funerals, as is the case in the poem). But ice cream was not the first frozen dessert! Its progenitors and variations are many. Here’s your guide to telling a gelato from a custard and every frozen treat in between. Oh, and of course, where to find them in Utah.

Ice Cream

History: In 1790, the first-known U.S. ice cream (or “iced cream,” as it was sometimes called) parlor opened in New York, and, prior to that, it was a favorite treat of America’s founding fathers. Dolley Madison was particularly keen on oyster ice cream. Thomas Jefferson’s ice cream recipe, alternatively, calls for vanilla. We’ll leave it to you to guess which of those flavors caught on.

ice cream Utah

What you need to know: A simple combination of cream, sugar (or another sweetener), flavoring and (sometimes) eggs. 

Who Does It Best? 

  • Leatherby’s, 1872 W. 5400 South, Taylorsville, 304 E. University Parkway, Orem; 372 E. 12300 South, Draper, leatherbys.com

Sherbet

ice cream Utah

History: The word dates back to the 16th century in the Middle East, where it was described as an icy drink often flavored with fruit. 

What you need to know: A frozen blend of cream or milk, sugar, fruit and ice. And, it’s sherbet not “sherbert.” 

Who Does It Best?

Sorbet

History: The first known recipe for sorbet, or “sorbetto” as it was called, dates back to Italy in the 17th century, which some culinary historians consider the first “official” ice cream. 

What you need to know: Typically a blend of fruit and ice with sweeteners like honey or sugar; usually dairy-free. 

Who Does It Best? 

  • Sweetaly Gelato, 2245 E. Murray Holladay Rd., Holladay; 1527 S. 1500 East, SLC, sweetaly.com
  • Color Ridge Farm & Creamery, 135 E. Main St., Torrey, colorridge.com

Gelato

ice cream Utah

History: In 1686, the café Il Procope opened in Paris, introducing gelato. The owner, a Sicilian named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, became known as the Father of Italian Gelato.

What you need to know: Compared to traditional ice cream, which is made with cream, gelato is made with whole milk and is less airy with a smoother texture. 

Who Does It Best? 

  • Sweetaly Gelato, 2245 E. Murray Holladay Rd., Holladay; 1527 S. 1500 East, SLC, sweetaly.com

Frozen Custard

History: Frozen custard likely traces its roots to Coney Island, in 1919.

What you need to know: Traditionally, ice cream is made with sugar, cream and eggs, but, in modern times, binders like Xanthum Gum have replaced the eggs. Not so with frozen custard, which contains egg yolks, and has a denser, creamier consistency.

Who Does It Best? 

Novelty Ice Cream

History: From push-pops to sandwiches to waffle tacos, ice cream can come in just about any shape and complement just about any culinary companion. Ice cream has a proverbial menagerie of varied and colorful children. 

ice cream Utah

What you need to know:  Eat ice cream with your cereal, in between two gooey cookies, frozen by liquid nitrogen, bathed in an espresso shot, or any other way you can possibly imagine. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of novelty ice cream shops in Utah.

Who Does It Best? 

  • Monkeywrench, vegan ice cream, 53 E. Gallivan Ave., SLC, (Instagram)
    @monkeywrench_slc

Frozen Yogurt

History: While yogurt has been around for thousands of years, frozen yogurt was probably born in the 1970s. 

What you need to know: Basically ice cream with at least some of the milk in the mix replaced with yogurt and the addition of yogurt cultures, making “frogurt” a bit more tart. 

Who Does It Best? 

Soft-Serve

ice cream Utah

History: There are several competing claims about who first invented soft-serve ice cream, but Americans have enjoyed it since the 1940s. 

What you need to know: It’s basically just semi-melted ice cream, but it can contain more air than traditional ice cream, making soft-serve a bit foamier. 

Who Does It Best? 


If you’re looking for more cold desserts to beat the heat this summer, we’ve got the lowdown on Milkshakes and Shaved Ice here!

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