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.
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 ($1.87), but there’s something about a simple ice cream shack that inspires you to order the simplest of treats.
So while it’s not trendy – its website boasts that what’s new for 2012 is a sundae topped with candy – Cup and Cone proves that classics never go out of style. It was here before red velvet or pomegranate frozen yogurt, and it will probably be here long after their novelty fades.
Cup and Cone
2126 4th St
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
OWNERS: Rick and Pam Johnstone
ICE CREAM RANGE: 47 cents to$ 3.97