Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, and even though it's Wednesday, it sure feels like a sundae. In fact, in Wisconsin, where ice cream and the related frozen custard are beloved, every day is like sundae.
"Most of our sundaes are made with vanilla custard," says Georgie Porgie's Gina Esch – reminding us of the reason that vanilla remains the top-selling flavor – a detail echoed by Cindi Sommer at Wautoma's classic Milty Wilty, too.
But I've never let that stop me, as a certified chocoholic, from tinkering with tradition. Everyone who follows my social media knows that soon after becoming a dusty road sundae fanatic, my addiction led me to innovate. I quickly created what I call the dusky road: hot fudge and malt powder (whipped cream optional) but with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla as the base.
In that spirit, I asked a number of area ice cream stands – and custard places, too, since custard is ice cream (though, of course, not all ice cream is custard), albeit laced with egg yolks – about their richest, yummiest, ooey-gooeyist chocolate sundaes.
830 E. Layton Ave.
"Our most famous sundae with chocolate is the Chocoholic," says second-generation owner Chris Roepke. "Two scoops of chocolate with hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry."
Sounds amazing, to me. Is it Roepke's favorite?
"I'm the wrong guy to ask my favorite," he says. "I can't eat ice cream. Lactose intolerant. God's trick on me. I own an ice cream parlour but can't eat it."
Oh no. I hope he can eat burgers.
"Oh, yeah I can," he says.
205 S. 2nd St.
"Our most popular chocolate extravaganza sundae contains milk and dark chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a malted milk ball," says Purple Door co-owner Lauren Schultz, who was guaranteed inclusion in this article as soon as she said "malted milk ball."
"My personal chocolate flavor is Malted Chocolate Chocolate Chunk," Schultz adds. "The addition of malt powder and the dark chocolate chunk pieces in the ice cream is heavenly." Yes, please.
9555 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek
5502 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant
"Our best-selling chocolate custard flavor has to be Death by Chocolate," says Esch. "Chocolate custard, fudge, Oreos and chocolate flakes."
While it's not technically a sundae, it has so many inclusions that it looks, tastes and seems like a sundae, so I'll allow it. I asked Esch if it's her favorite.
"My favorite is actually an entry from last year's custard contest – the Tabby Kat," she says. "It's chocolate custard with caramel sauce and KitKat pieces. I love all things caramel and KitKat is one of my favorite candy bars. Put it together and this girl is in custard heaven!"
4144 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood
Up in Shorewood, according to The Ruckus' Scott Schwebel, you can get a sundae with, "fresh-spun dutch chocolate soft-serve, spiced fudge sauce with Troubadour chocolate chip crumble and churro."
But it's not actually a sundae, says Schwebel. "We call it a 'Saturdae' in our joint."
W7411 Wis. Hwy. 73, Wautoma
Milty Wilty owner Cindi Sommer, whose father opened the stand decades ago, says the turtle sundae is the most popular there, though with vanilla custard.
But, she adds, she also makes it with chocolate as the base, "When I need a double chocolate fix."
"I love hot fudge," Sommer adds. "Sometimes I make it a turtle, sometimes I add marshmallow or pecans or bananas or just have it by itself."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.