Ice cream connoisseurs critic

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. With summer just around the corner, this couldn’t be more true. Everyone loves a cold treat in the middle of hot day, but where’s the best place to go to get it? The Tiger Hi-Line decided to find out. By scooping out four area ice cream shoppes — Dairy Queen, Four Queens Dairy Cream, Cold Stone Creamery and Hansen’s Dairy Outlet — we’ve compiled rankings of their respective variety, service, ambiance, cost and, of course, taste. Remember these are just our opinions. Where you decide to get your summer frozen fix is ultimately up to you.

Variety:

1. Four Queens – Complete with 10 soft serve ice cream flavors, eight flavor burst flavors, seven cone varieties, various coffee crunchies, upwards of 35 snowstorm flavors, 28 snowie flavors, nine slushie flavors, seven smoothie types, five different floats, 15 toppings, nine specialty sundaes and six freezer items including pints and quarts of ice cream and custom icecream cakes, Four Queens by far has the most selections available in the Cedar Valley

2. Cold Stone – Home to a wide selection of hard ice cream flavors, mix-ins and toppings, Cold Stone offers both Signature and Make-Your-Own Creations available in cup or cone.They also have ice cream cakes, cupcakes, shakes, smoothies, frozen yogurt, sorbert and take-home quarts in four flavors available.

3. Dairy Queen – Only two soft serve ice cream flavors are available, but when paired with seven available sundae toppings, four cone types or select mix-ins for prime Blizzard creations, this can be overlooked. They also offer two Royal Treats, three freezer novelties and custom made cakes.

4. Hansen’s – Hansen’s offers a few soft serve flavors, flavor burst cones, pre-made cones and ice cream sandwhiches. In store they sell their hard ice cream in half-gallons, quarts, half-pints, and 4 oz. cups in 28 flavors.

Service:

1. Cold Stone – Employees were extremely pleasant and smiled often. Their service was quick and friendly. They seemed dedicated to making our experience enjoyable. Tip and you might just be sung to.

2. Four Queens – Service was quick even though it was rather busy. Employees were pleasant, and though not highly smiley, seemed to care about making our experience enjoyable. Four queens also offers a drive through window service.

3. Hansen’s – Cashiers were pleasant and helpful, but didn’t go out of their way to make our experience the best of the best.

4. Dairy Queen – Service seemed slow, even though it wasn’t very busy. Cashier was pleasant, but seemed disengaged.

Ambiance:

1. Cold Stone – With light and airy coordinated decor, Cold Stone offers a clean, pleasant ambiance complete with a large array of indoor seating for enjoyin one’s treat.

2. Four Queens – Though indoor space is limited, there are plenty of outdoor benches and shaded picnic  tables, and displayed sports posters show appreciated support for Cedar Falls athletics.

3. Dairy Queen – It’s somewhat dim inside, and seating is only offered outdoors.

4. Hansen’s – No seating is offered. Remember it’s intent is not just as an ice cream shoppe, but also as an outlet for selling other Hansen’s products.

Cost:

1. Hansen’s  – With standard size, quality flavored, hard ice cream cones only costing $1.75, there’s no better deal in the Cedar Valley.

2. Dairy Queen – Reasonably priced frozen treats. It was pleasing to find that Royal Treats weren’t much more expensive than standard treats.

3. Four Queens – Products have pretty standard pricing. The price difference between sizes is larger than expected. However, perhaps ounce difference between sizes justifies this.

4. Cold Stone – Cold Stone ice cream comes at the steepest price in the Cedar Valley, especially if you’re looking for something other than kiddie sized, and adding additional toppings can increase that price quickly.

Taste:

1. Hansen’s  – Hansen’s hard ice cream, made on the Hansen’s farm, is extremely delicious. It’s thick, rich and decadent. Better than any else in the Cedar Valley.

2. Cold Stone – Cold Stone’s Signature Creations come in a close second. By mixing the very best complimentary flavors, they create the perfect combinations. Their hard ice cream is thick creamy, and tastes amazing.

3. Four Queens – Their soft serve ice cream, though not as satisfying as hard ice cream, is the best in the area. It’s pleasingly sweet and smooth.

4. Dairy Queen – Coming in close behind Four Queens soft serve, DQ soft serve is by no means bad. It’s smooth, cool and still hits the spot on a hot summer day.

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