There’s definitely a time and a place for the wildly creative, indulgent ice cream concoctions being scooped at places like Milkjam Creamery. But there’s also a time and a place for something simpler and more basic. When that craving arrives, you can do what people have been doing for nearly 30 years: Go to Conny’s Creamy Cone in St. Paul.
With its cheerful colors and block lettering, the building itself is reminiscent of a State Fair food purveyor. There’s a pride of place and a sense of being a good neighbor; on one visit, staff were outside, power-washing the siding.
And just like the State Fair, Conny’s draws crowds no matter the weather. On two recent visits, people were lined up on windy, 35-degree days waiting for their soft-serve fix. Is it worth the wait, especially in 35-degree weather?
Yes. Conny’s offers soft-serve ice cream in the standard flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and twist, but they can also add flavoring to the vanilla, thus creating an additional 28 flavors. The base ice cream is just what you want from soft serve: creamy and rich, with just the right amount of sweetness. But it’s not so rich that you can’t consume a lot of it at one sitting.
We decided to go completely old school and have a banana split ($4.39). It was delightful, constructed just like Bridgman’s used to do back in the day: three dollops of vanilla between a split-open banana, topped with strawberries (fresh), pineapple sauce, and chocolate sauce, with squidgens of whipped cream in each corner. Fancy? Not really, but so satisfying in an “I remember loving this in childhood, and it turns out I still do” kind of way.
A chocolate malt ($2.59-$3.59, depending on size) had a similarly retro, happy-making feel. The base ice cream is that same creamy vanilla, now swirled with plenty of chocolate.
The flavored cones ($2.20-$2.80, depending on size) were plump towers full of ice-creamy goodness. The blackberry was sweet, and maybe tasted more like raspberry than blackberry, but it was still refreshing. The caramel was light on stickiness, with almost a caramel aftertaste rather than a full-out caramel flavor.
Conny’s sells a number of food-stand items (chili dogs, chicken strips) that are serviceable, if not exciting. But really, you’re here for the soft serve. Skip the protein and get the sugar.
Conny’s Creamy Cone, 1197 Dale St N, St. Paul, MN 55117; 651.488.4150