There’s nothing quite like cold ice cream on a hot summer’s day, and local residents have many spots to choose from.
“My friend told me they make delicious ice cream here,” said Ever Morales while picking up three packages of ice cream from Harper’s on Eulaton Road in Anniston.
After a few minutes of thinking, Morales got coconut, pecan pie and pina colada for his flavors.
Alice and Gary Harper have been at their storefront for 28 years, but have only been selling ice cream for the past six. They have tried several other business ideas, such as a grocery store and a service station.
“One day we just decided ice cream might be good,” said Alice. She makes all the ice cream and fixings herself, including the brownies and cake she puts in select flavors.
The shop also has some audio equipment in the sitting area, which the Harpers say is usually playing gospel music. “Lots of people come in for prayer,” said Alice.
The Harpers say they have had customers from as far away as Germany, since a German company owns a nearby factory and flies people down for training every couple of months.
Alice says she is lactose-intolerant and hasn’t been able to eat ice cream for years, yet she enjoys her job and their place in the community. “We’re just a mom-and-pop shop,” she said.
Harper’s, 5139 Eulaton Road, Anniston, 256-283-3247. Open 5 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
First Class Ice Cream, Oxford
Alice is not the only lactose-intolerant ice cream store owner.
Julian Lopez, the owner of First Class Ice Cream in Oxford, opened his shop a year ago, even though he can’t consume his product.
Lopez said he wanted to open an ice cream store because there was “a lack thereof.” The only other options for ice cream in the area were soft serve and frozen yogurt, and Lopez wanted to serve hand-dipped ice cream.
Lopez said First Class uses premium ingredients from wherever they can source them, such as local farmers markets.
First Class also uses Spanish when naming some of its flavors, such as naranja (orange) and fresa (strawberry).
“Those who don’t speak English can still get something,” Lopez said. According to Lopez, all the workers are bilingual. “We’re just a welcoming environment,” he said.
Customers like the Clark family agree. David Clark turned 19 on Friday, so his family went to First Class to celebrate. David got a vanilla milkshake. His father, Daniel, got a mocha milkshake. His sister, Emma, got an Oreo cream pop. His mother, Deanna, shared a Cotton Candy Explosion and a scoop of Superman ice cream with younger brother Elijah.
David said they came to First Class “because the ice cream is better than the rest.”
“We just like the atmosphere,” said Deanna.
First Class Ice Cream, 426 Main St., Oxford, “First Class Ice Cream” on Facebook.
Pop The Top Soda Shop, Talladega
If a 1950s-style soda shop sounds like a fun place to spend a few hours, check out Pop The Top Soda Shop in Talladega.
Rebecca Hall, store manager, says the shop specializes in banana splits and makes the biggest ones in town.
The store was opened in 2014 by Hall’s eldest son, Ryan. Ryan had a passion for the 1950s era. “He said he felt he was born in the wrong era,” Hall said.
Ryan was the owner up until two years ago, Hall said, and now she manages the store while her husband is the owner.
Pop The Top uses Blue Bell ice cream (which has a plant in nearby Sylacauga) and is willing to mix any flavor a customer wants into a shake.
“We can do anything with a milkshake,” Hall said.
On Monday, Kelsey Rhoads came in for a peach smoothie, her favorite. She said she enjoys coming to the store because of the location and the customer service. “They have very nice staff,” Rhoads said.
Pop The Top Soda Shop, 704 E. Battle St., Talladega, 256-268-8036. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-9 p.m. Sunday.
Dugger Mountain Fudge, Piedmont
While ice cream is fantastic, sometimes it may not be enough to satisfy a sugar tooth. This is where Dugger Mountain Fudge and Coffee in Piedmont comes in.
“We do fudge, coffee, ice cream, smoothies and stuff like that,” said Jennifer South, the store owner.
South makes the fudge each day, in a variety of flavors such as raspberry-vanilla, salted Snickers, espresso bean and banana pudding.
The store has a rustic quality to it, with wooden floors that invoke the image of general stores from the Wild West and a cozy sitting area for enjoying desserts. The store carries other products too, such as handmade soap, T-shirts, mugs and honey.
But what sets this place apart is the gun store located in the same building, just beyond the sitting area. Customers may feel like looking for a new firearm to defend their recently purchased treats.
Customers not interested in weapons still need to get their sugar fix, and South’s store is the shop of choice for 15-year-old Alyssa Howell.
“It has a very good variety and the service is really nice,” said Howell. “I only get the salted caramel milkshake.”
Howell said she’s been coming to the store for the past five months, since it opened in January.
Dugger Mountain Fudge and Coffee Company, 614 N. Main St., Piedmont, 256-792-9400. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.