What’s your biggest junk food weakness? Tell us all about it in its sugary, salty, glory.
When Laura and I first began to date (in 2003), we discovered a mutual fondness for ice cream and for the activity of visiting an ice cream spot – there are dozens in Pittsburgh. I grew up going to either Dairy Queen on 885 or to the Tastee-Freeze on Route 51 in Baldwin. My Dad would pile us all into the car and off we’d go – our orders were very ordinary. My brother and I had cones and we could have them dipped or sprinkled if we chose. My mother got a hot fudge sundae “with nuts!” and my father usually had a banana split. When we aged out of the “likely to spill in the car” phase, my father would let us have small sundaes.
Ledcat’s family lived in Mercer County and she grew up riding her bike to an actual ice cream shop. She also attended Penn State which is home to a much-worshipped ice cream company.
She and I would visit the former Bruester’s in Greenfield, Page’s Dairy Mart on Carson Street and Dell’s in Munhall near my former home. We’ve stopped at all sorts of ice cream spots on our way from here to there and back again. Dairy Queen will do in a pinch – we have two nearby options, one on Route 65 and one on Babcock Blvd. Bruester’s is so mammoth that we only go there once in a while. I have constant arguments with their staff when I order a small size in a medium bowl to limit drips and spills.
There’s something about queuing up with others to wait for your turn at the window. The conversation is usually friendly and easy going. Kids are super excited and often overwhelmed by the choices.
Our favorite spot is Klavon’s Ice Cream in the Strip District. During the summer months, a typical Sunday for us is as follows
- go swimming at Riverview Park pool
- cook dinner & eat while watching 60 Minutes
- put out the recycling/trash
- go to Klavon’s for an ice cream
Under the new owners, Klavon’s has cut back their Sunday hours to end at 8 PM so this will require some tweaking on our part. This past week, we opted to try Sincerely Yogurt on the South Side as they are open a wee bit later. But Klavon’s is a magical place. The former owner (who has since passed) Ray Klavon restored his grandfather’s drugstore and it was filled with collectibles and all sorts of delights. They used to serve Hershey’s Ice Cream, now they serve the Penn State variety.
Laura loves a hot fudge sundae (with nuts) or a kid’s cone. I like sundae’s, but I also like real ice cream in a waffle cone. I always promise myself that I’ll try something new and always fail! We used to take our dog Mona with us and get her a vanilla cone in a bowl. She would clamber up into an outdoor chair and bark at everyone who didn’t pet her. We’ve taken all sorts of friends and guests.
But Sunday evenings are for us. We aren’t gone an hour, but it feels like this special slice of time where we are simply indulging in the moment. We’ll sometimes get ice cream at home, but it’s not the same at all even if it is much more affordable.
What Pittsburgh ice cream spots do you recommend?
Ice cream brings to mind two things – brushing your teeth and washing your hands (especially if you get a sundae!) Please help me in my quest to make sure my neighbors have access to items like tooth paste and hand soap and maybe even some wipes. Support ‘Cathy’s Closet’ with a modest donation today.