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Ames man bikes through central Iowa to try the best ice cream parlors

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James Douthit loves cycling. He is also an ice cream lover. This summer, he combined those two interests into one delightful project as he pedaled from his home in Ames to the ice cream shops of central Iowa.

“For the past few months, I’ve cycled from my home in Ames to every ice cream maker within a 40 mile radius,” Douthit said.

Cycling more than 80 miles a week in his quest to sample delicious frozen concoctions has taken the 23-year-old to a variety of stores in the Ames and Des Moines area.

“I’m from Colorado. I grew up there and fell in love with cycling there. A lot of my friends were riding bikes, so you get into what your friends like,” Douthit said.

A Denver native, he attended Boulder College at the University of Colorado. He joined Ames just over a year ago to work at Workiva as a site reliability engineer.

James Douthit and his girlfriend Abby Fowler, both from Ames, pose outside Double Dipped Ice Cream in Huxley.  They both rode their bikes to the ice cream shop.

When Douthit did his ice cream challenge, he expected to have to pedal a lot of gravel roads.

“I think Iowa is really sweet,” he said. “And what I found was that to get to all the ice cream shops, I didn’t have to go on gravel roads. I like to go fast, so I always take my road bike.”

Douthit became a fan of the ice cream products he tasted in Iowa.

“Maybe I’m giving Colorado’s ice cream scene a bad name, but I’ve never had ice cream as good as it is here in Iowa,” he said. “Iowa’s ice cream is awesome.”

One of the benefits of Douthit’s pedaling for dessert project is that he doesn’t have to feel guilty about eating a lot of ice cream as he puts the miles behind him.

“When you’re riding far, the calories you’re consuming can go crazy,” Douthit said. “The bike is about 50 calories per mile, and I cycle about 18 miles per hour. So we’re talking about 900 calories burned in an hour. I don’t think you can even come close to replacing it with cream icy.

“It’s almost reverse guilt. I just want to put in as much ice cream as possible.

Ames' James Douthit takes a selfie near the High Trestle Trail on his way to an ice cream shop in Madrid.

Douthit considers himself an amateur ice cream evaluator.

“I’ve had some culinary training, but I’m by no means an industry expert,” he said. “I really liked every place I went and thought everyone was awesome.”

Mint Nuggets flavor is one of his go-to selections when trying a new location. He also likes to taste the vanilla as he thinks it gives a good indication of the base flavor and consistency of the ice cream.

“When you put nothing in it — none of the extras like the mint flavor — you can really taste the craftsmanship, the artistry of it,” he said.

James Douthit takes a selfie in front of Black Cat Ice Cream in Des Moines.

Ice cream shops always on Douthit’s list to visit include:

  • Heavenly Delights, 105 E. First St., Grimes, which offers 40 flavors of hard ice cream and 19 flavors of soft ice cream, according to its Facebook page.
  • Over the Top, 955 NE 56th St., Pleasant Hill, which offers “premium homemade ice cream made daily in store”.
  • Starbuck’s Drive-In, 1620 Lincoln Highway, Nevada, is a Story County icon offering “old fashioned” soft serve ice cream, with flavors that change weekly as well as its vanilla, chocolate and twist classics.

Douthit was a little taken aback when Starbuck’s in Nevada answered his Google query about local ice cream owners. He thought it was part of the ubiquitous coffeeshop chain.

“I was told about Starbuck by a co-worker, so I’m going to have to go too,” he said.

James Douthit offers insight into each location, including some of his favorite flavors

Marmalade Moon, 207 Main Street, Ames – Owners Graham Watkins and Ann-Marie Widdowson opened this ice cream and gift shop just before Christmas 2021. They offer 12 flavors, including dairy-free and vegan options, and the options change weekly. “I really like this ice cream,” Douthit said. “It reminds me of the taste that ice cream is supposed to have.” Her favorite flavor is Mint Chocolate Chunk.

After:Marmalade Moon ice cream shop brings a unique flavor to the main street of Ames

Wiggy’s Ice Cream Trailer, North Grand Mall Parking Lot — “I love their ice cream. I think they do a really good job,” Douthit said. “They’re interesting because they pre-do everything and have like two scoops in a little container. But it’s still very cold no matter what time I went. He said that Wiggy’s is also “incredible with their mix-ins. The flavor of mint nuggets is phenomenal, he said.

James Douthit takes a selfie at ISU Creamery, located in Iowa State's Food Sciences Building.

Iowa State University Creamery, 2953 Food Sciences Building, 536 Farm House Lane, Ames — “They have a really big list of flavors and they have some crazy names for them. I had their peanut butter flavor and it was awesome that they really knew what they were doing,” he said. he stated, “I highly recommend it. They have a huge two story room where they make the ice cream and it’s all glass so you can see the floor of the shop. It was worth it. … They have a corn-based flavor, and I’ve never seen that anywhere else before.

Customers line up to place orders at Black Cat Ice Cream in Des Moines.

Black Cat Ice Cream, 2511 Cottage Grove, Des Moines — “This place is a kind of experience in its own right. It’s kinda kitschy, in a really good way,” Douthit said. “There are black cat patterns throughout and a real vintage vibe with a nice wooden counter.” He tried one of the store’s classic flavors, brown sugar cookie dough. “I would say this was one of my favorite scoops of summer ice cream,” he said.

Double Dip Ice Cream and Coffee, 204 N. Highway 69, Suite 204 D, Huxley — With 18 flavors available daily, this local shop offers hand-dipped classics. “Although they don’t make their own ice cream on site, I thought they had really good ice cream. And they were friendly and cool,” Douthit said. “I especially liked their ice cream base – their vanilla,” he said. Like Wiggy’s ice cream, Double Dipped does a great job with mixes, he said, like pieces of waffle cone that aren’t soggy. “Double Dipped and Wiggy’s both display serious mastery of their mix-ins,” he said.

James Douthit takes a selfie at The Outside Scoop in Ankeny.  Douthit biked from Ames to various glaciers in central Iowa this summer.

Exterior Scoop, 2410 SW White Birch Drive, Suite 100, Ankeny – “I thought they were really cool. It’s like a freak. When I went it was almost late afternoon on a weekday and the line was out the door,” he said. said “It’s really good. They’re doing a good job.” The store has been offering its favorite scoop of ice cream in Iowa so far — a roasted cherry with goat cheese. “It’s amazing. When I tasted it, I said to myself: “This is the best ice cream I have eaten in my life,” he said. “It left me speechless.”

Stam Chocolate Factory, 230 Main Street, Ames — “Technically it doesn’t fit on my list because it’s ice cream rather than ice cream, but the ice cream is really delicious.” They have a great store. It’s such a cute store with a European feel to it with its furniture and layout,” he said.

The gas station, 129 S Water St, Madrid “It’s a little ice cream shop in Madrid, near the High Trestle Trail Bridge,” he said. “They were great. I had an ice cream mix and I had their chocolate ice cream, which was great.

Swede Point Creamery, 1659 334th Road, Madrid — This goat’s milk creamery opened in 2016 and is located 1.6 km west of Madrid. “It is also close to the High Trestle Trail. I have their vanilla. I think it’s a really good way to taste because the real flavor comes out,” he said.

James Douthit visited Wiggy's Ice Cream in the parking lot of the North Grand Mall in Ames.

Picket Fence Creamery, 14583 S Ave., Woodward — “It’s really a nice ice cream.” It’s super smooth,” Douthit said. “They have a basic mint flavor and I had a ball. They also have a great vanilla base.

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Bauder Pharmacy, 3802 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines “It was a cute place. It’s a pharmacy with an ice cream counter, and they make their own ice cream,” he said. Bauder is well known for his booth at the Iowa State Fair, which features a variety of flavors, including peppermint ice cream bars coated in fudge and Oreo cookie crumbs.