Friday night we decided to make an impromptu run across the bridge into Philadelphia to get some ice cream. Sure, we could have gotten some here in South Jersey, but it’s more of a night out when we head into Philadelphia. If we stay on this side of the bridge, it’s just going to get ice cream.
I did a quick search for best ice cream places in Philadelphia and came up with Franklin Fountain. I’ve heard others sing its praises before, but my family had never been there. It’s an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that’s famous for its fresh, homemade ice cream made with local cream and other local ingredients scooped out by old-timey soda jerks who serve the customers.
We were a bit overwhelmed when we arrived at the ice cream shop because we unknowingly showed up during Old City Philadelphia’s First Friday. Old City, where Franklin Fountain is located, is the historical section of the city where the Liberty Bell and Independents Hall is located. During the warmer months, on the first Friday of each month, art galleries open up to the public and there are lots of extra activities. It gets very crowded in Old City and the line for the Franklin Fountain ran out the door and wrapped around inside.
We had about a 20-minute wait from the beginning of standing in line till we dug into our treats, but it was well worth it. We all devoured our ice cream. The milk and cream used for the ice cream comes from family dairies in two counties close to Philadelphia — Berks and Lancaster. Many of the fruits, nuts and chocolates in the ice cream are obtained locally, too.
One thing that impressed me while waiting in line was that the soda jerks gave taste samples of ice cream to customers on small medal spoons that got put in a jar to be washed and reused. I always feel guilty asking for a sample of something if it involves a plastic spoon that gets thrown away after one small taste. If you eat at the Franklin Fountain’s outdoor seating (there is no indoor seating) you’ll be given reusable cups and spoons. If you order your ice cream take out, you’ll be given eco-friendlier disposable cups, spoons and straws.
I had a small serving of butter pecan that was not small at all, but it was absolutely delicious. One of my boys had an apple turnover topped with fresh-tasting vanilla ice cream and my other son, true to form, ordered a vanilla milkshake that he said was really good. (Ironically, he said the paper straw in the milkshake that impressed me was a distraction from the treat. It just wasn’t “right,” in his opinion.) My husband ordered a waffle cone with black raspberry ice cream in it and couldn’t stop raving about both the cone and the ice cream with each bite.
As we were waiting for our order, we saw the seasonal Great Pumpkin Sundae being made, and I’m determined to get back there before the seasonal offering is done to share one with my husband. Pumpkin ice cream, hot caramel, pecan halves, fresh whipped cream (all their whipped cream is fresh — not from a can), and cinnamon bark create a sundae that looks mouth watering.
Take a look at this clip from an episode of "Man V. Food" in which host Adam Richman raves about Franklin Fountains' mint chip ice cream that isn’t day-glo green.
If you live near Philadelphia or you're planning a trip to see the historical sites in the City of Brotherly Love, make a point to stop at Franklin Fountain for some really good ice cream treats. It’s located at 116 Market Street. And bring cash; they don’t take credit cards.