While I’m on the subject of ice cream, let’s explore the downtown St. Joseph, Michigan, cityscape in regard to this issue. It’s a small downtown, just recently discovered by tourists who overflow the area on summer weekends.
Time was, a decade back, when tourists weren’t as welcome as they are today. But things have changed. One thermometer of this change is the number of ice cream shops within a two to three block area, each seeming to make it this year. There’s Kilwin’s, a chain that I first encountered in Illinois. It’s pricey and sells fudge, candy, and coated apples as well as ice cream. Although I’ve never been a devotee, the line out the door is often intimidating.
Then there’s the Chocolate Café. It too is pricey, sells various cakes and candies, and also serves lunch. It expands to the sidewalk with little tables and chairs, so customers can sit outside and watch the scene. The hot chocolate is to die for. The soup is pretty good too.
Cabana’s is the local offering. Not a chain, not high end, good value. Also serves hot dogs. I have never been in Cabana’s, but if I were an ice cream afficionado I would start there. I like the idea of leaving my dollars in a local establishment.
The new kid on the block is Yo Bubbs. It’s not really ice cream at all; rather it’s a self-serve yogurt emporium: fourteen different flavors of yogurt that pour out when you pull a particular lever; umpteen topppings such as Snicker’s® chunks, sour worms, raisins, and cherries; and a variety of sauces to cover the entire thing.
I visited Yo Bubbs expecting not to like it at all. I listened to the introductory speech for all newbies and then took the cardboard cup (a very large cardboard cup) and studied the yogurts available that day. I wanted only a sample, so I slowly pulled the vanilla yogurt lever until a small amount plopped into the bottom of my cup. At fifty-two cents an ounce, you want to be careful.
By the time I’d chosen a topping and a sauce, my total weight (which is how you pay for Yo Bubbs) was only three ounces, or a dollar fifty-six.It was just the right amount for me to determine if Yo Bubbs is my thing. I really didn’t want to like it; after all those huge cardboard bowls encourage over-buying, over-paying, and over-eating. Or over-wasting. But the truth is I liked it. A lot.
Better than Kilwin’s. Better than Chocolate Café. Not as good as Rainbow. Or homemade Rainbow. (See previous blog.) But still . . . I find myself hoping Yo Bubbs survives the dead of winter when the tourists have gone home and only locals venture forth.