Ohio Ice Cream Wars: Jeni’s vs. Mitchell’s
Ohio inspires ice cream makers. The proof? Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams started serving scoops in 2002 in Columbus and blossomed into an ice cream dynasty. Jeni Britton Bauer’s book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home has become New York Times Best-Selling cookbook teaching regular cooks to craft Jeni’s signature flavors like Brambleberry Crisp, Salty Caramel, and Wildberry Lavender (a personal fav). You can find 11 scoop shops here in Ohio along with several in Tennesse–plus a new local just opened in Chicago. Jeni’s ice creams have garnered national acclaim and awards (James Beard, check).
But Jeni’s isn’t the only ice cream shop in town. Mitchell’s started in 1999 when brothers Pete and Mike decided to shelve their degrees in psychology (that’d be Pete) and philosophy (Mike’s also the ice cream chef) for a pursuit of sweets. They have either stores dotting Ohio, with another coming soon in the burgeoning Ohio City area.
Here’s what both shops are known for:
- Taste all you want. Seriously. You can ask for little taster spoons of all the flavors available.
- Locally sourced ingredients. Fresh-picked berries. Local ales. Mitchell’s even marks ice creams with a 100, meaning the ingredients came mostly from within 100 miles of where the ice cream is made.
- Lines. Well, when you can get taster spoons of just about everything and the ice cream is fabulous, are you surprised?
- Awesome customer service–shiny happy people all around
Now the differences:
In Mr. Squid’s words, “Jeni’s is more of an experience than an ice cream.” Where else can you get Goat Cheese and Red Cherry Ice Cream or Bangkok Peanut (sadly this ice cream that heats up in your mouth hasn’t been available lately)?
- Artisan spins on familiar flavors–Ndali estate vanilla bean not “Vanilla”
- Hipster zibe abounds at the shop
- $9.99 a pint
This is the place the team goes to after basketball tournaments, the place where you see you neighbors and people linger while savoring sweets. That’s not to say their ice creams are lacking in creativity–or quality–the newly introduced vegan line (I had salted caramel pecan last week) entices visitors to try something new.
- Familiar favorites made better–hello, super-sized Belgian chocolate chunks in the Rocky Road and organic mint in the Chocolate Mint ice cream
- Laid back feel and coloring paper for the kids
- $5.99 a pint
The verdict around our house–when you want something a little different head to Jeni’s. But for the creamiest, richest dark chocolate Mitchell’s is our regular spot.
Your turn: Have you tried Jeni’s and Mitchell’s ice creams? Which one was your favorite?