best Cape Cod ice cream

There is perhaps no other food that is more synonymous with summer than ice cream, and when it comes to the cool, creamy confection, Cape Codders and visitors certainly have their favorite spots.

At Schoolhouse Ice Cream & Yogurt in Harwich Port, owner Susan Stanley says she has built a loyal following by using the freshest and highest quality ingredients, and that does not always mean buying local. “We get our cocoa powder for the chocolate from Amsterdam, and our vanilla comes from Madagascar,” she says.

Offering a super-premium ice cream, which means using 16 percent butter fat, has earned her the distinction of a “Best of” award in Cape Cod LIFE’s annual contest. And it’s not just the human variety that considers Schoolhouse Ice Cream & Yogurt a favorite. “We give out free doggie sundaes,” Stanley says. “It’s a little bit of vanilla ice cream with a dog biscuit.” Open seasonally from April through September, Schoolhouse Ice Cream & Yogurt is serving up the best that the Cape has to offer.

Owner of the Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlour in Mashpee, Mark Lawrence says the secret to success in the ice cream business is really knowing your customer base. “I believe in being very involved in the community. I have always felt strongly that if you give to the community they will give back to you, and that has been the case for the past 17 years,” he says.

He acknowledges that his business is not just about the ice cream. “We sell more than just ice cream,” Lawrence says. “We are scooping happiness.”

Business wasn’t always booming, however, at the Polar Cave. Lawrence remembers playing games of table tennis with his daughter between customers when he first opened the business. “Now, I have customers who will stand in line and wait an hour and a half for an ice cream. Imagine that,” he says.

Four Seas Ice Cream in Centerville has been serving up its award-winning summer confection since 1934 and holds the distinction of being the oldest ice cream shop on Cape Cod.

Doug Warren, who now owns the business with his wife Peggy, says selling ice cream is literally a labor of love. “My parents met here and later bought the business, and it has remained in our family ever since. We have served six or seven generations of families here,” Warren says. He says it is important to understand how different combinations of flavors will react. “Some ingredients are going to give you an initial burst of flavor while others have a follow-up taste; when you have the right combination, it yields a very complex taste. When you know how to combine certain flavors, that’s when you get an ice cream that really pops.”

Four Seas is open seven days a week during the summer and now offers limited hours in the off-season.