Cup and Cone in White Bear Lake

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

In an age of hand-crafted, funky-flavored ice cream and self-serve frozen yogurt, good ol’ fashioned soft-serve sometimes gets the shaft. It’s not new, it’s not fancy, and it doesn’t come with a list of 2,000 toppings ranging from chocolate chips to chocolate-covered potato chips. But sometimes it just hits the spot, and if you’re jonesing for it, do what generations of White Bear Lake residents have done for almost 40 years: get in line at Cup and Cone.

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

Having served as a gas station, barber shop, taco stand, and record shop before the Johnstone family bought the building in 1973, Cup and Cone draws ice cream lovers from all over the east metro — the line has been known to stretch the couple blocks to Highway 61 on warm summer nights, when the kids are done with their soccer games but no one is quite ready to head home yet. Even if you’re feeding the entire team, with cones starting at 47 cents for the kiddie size, your wallet doesn’t feel much of a sting. There is no indoor seating — if you can’t find a seat at one of the several tables outside, well, tough. Someone is bound to get up from their table eventually.

Cup and Cone offers a sandwich menu with subs, hoagies, brats, and hot dogs, but the ice cream is the real draw. Choose from cones, cups, malts, shakes, slushies, sundaes, floats, and freezes; none costs more than $4. We tend to be purists here and stick with cones; chocolate and vanilla are mainstays, while the flavor of the day is updated daily on the website. The soft-serve isn’t mind-blowing, but it serves its purpose more than ably, offering a cool, creamy, and sticky respite from the afternoon heat. You can add a few candy mix-ins or toppers, swirl a variety of flavors into your shake, or indulge with a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich ($1.87), but there’s something about a simple ice cream shack that inspires you to order the simplest of treats.

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

So while it’s not trendy – its website boasts that what’s new for 2012 is a sundae topped with candy – Cup and Cone proves that classics never go out of style. It was here before red velvet or pomegranate frozen yogurt, and it will probably be here long after their novelty fades.

Cup and Cone
2126 4th St
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Daily 10am-10:30pm
OWNERS: Rick and Pam Johnstone
ICE CREAM RANGE: 47 cents to$ 3.97

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table


  1. Kate

    This is one of those hidden gems that you ADORE and you really are torn though, wanting everyone to know how good it is, but thinking that those lines are always too long and you don’t want MORE people crowding those sidewalks.

    So thanks for sharing this adorable throw-back. I’ll be grateful even though it makes me wait longer for the Crunchy sundae.

  2. Heather

    Katie — I totally agree. As the person who told Jill about Cup N Cone being one of my husband and my favorite WBL stops, I was hesitant about her profiling it and driving the line even further down the street. But knowing how well-read Jill’s pieces are on Heavy Table, I am glad she is sharing a hidden East-side gem with the masses! Plus she did introduce me to the ice cream cookie sandwiches which may have to replace my standard $1.50 chocolate dipped cone!

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