Open Tab: Graeter’s Ice Cream prioritizes quality in vast array of sweet treats


Danny O’Grady/Daily Senior Staffer

The Graeter’s Ice Cream shop in Winnetka. The amount of variety offered by the franchise is impressive and keeps its offerings from becoming stale.

Danny O’Grady, Design Editor

Ohio is not usually known for its delicacies, but a small regional chain named Graeter’s Ice Cream stands tall as one of the tastiest eating establishments to come out of the Buckeye State. Growing up in Cincinnati, where Graeter’s was founded, I have many fond memories of getting ice cream there with my family.

Graeter’s is a beloved store in Cincinnati, so I was thrilled to learn there were two locations within driving distance of Northwestern’s Evanston Campus before starting my freshman year. 

Over the Fall and Winter quarters, my ice cream withdrawal had become palpable, so I had to return to Graeter’s for a taste of home. During my hiatus, I had forgotten about the variety of ice cream flavors available, which allows customers to continue branching out. However, there are a select few staples that are especially notable.

Hands down, Graeter’s most memorable flavor is its signature black raspberry chocolate chip — a must-try. It has a cult-like following in Cincinnati, and for good reason: the black raspberry flavoring provides just the right amount of sweetness to complement the fudgy soft chocolate chunks mixed in. 

Additionally, Graeter’s offers the best cookies and cream ice cream I have ever had. While the flavor is a mainstay among ice cream shops across the country, this version has a distinctive taste that only Graeter’s can provide. The abundance of Oreo chunks distributed throughout each scoop is likely the determining factor in its creamy success.

When one inevitably wants to branch out from these two stars, Graeter’s presents a whopping 42 total flavors to choose from. Each one offers a new sensation to the menu as a whole, and while some are seasonal offerings, their limited-time status keeps customers coming back.

A cup of birthday cake ice cream sits on a table.
A cup of birthday cake ice cream from Graeter’s, which consistently delivers top-notch quality to give its customers the most bang for their buck.
(Danny O’Grady/Daily Senior Staffer)

Each of these flavors is carefully made through what Graeter’s refers to as the “French Pot Process,” which entails making batches of ice cream 2 1/2 gallons at a time in a way that minimizes the amount of trapped air in them. As a result of this process and the hand-packing of the ice cream, the final product is thicker and more indulgent than that of competitors.

I may have given the impression that Graeter’s is only an ice cream shop, but that would be underselling it. It also boasts an impressive collection of sweet treats to complement its frozen offerings. The candy fruit slices are a standout of the bunch and deliver a satisfying jolt of sugar in well-textured fruit shapes. If candy fruit isn’t your cup of tea, some locations even include a bakery that sells goods such as brownies and cakes. 

Unfortunately, bakeries are not present in 14 of its 57 locations, which makes it hard to access Graeter’s baked goods. Although there was no bakery present in the Winnetka location I visited, part of “Home Alone” was filmed there, which makes up for the absence of a fresh-baked brownie.

Graeter’s biggest downside is its lack of presence outside southern Ohio, which makes it less accessible in the Evanston area. A car is necessary to reach one of the local locations from campus. However, ice cream enjoyers can still get a taste of Graeter’s at retailers across the Midwest, such as Whole Foods and Kroger. In fact, the Market at Norris University Center offers a humble selection of Graeter’s products.

Throughout its over 150-year history, Graeter’s has maintained its commitment to making its ice cream in small batches in order to sustain its iconic quality as well as its usage of the finest ingredients available. Couple that with its status as a longtime family business, and it’s easy to see why Graeter’s is so lovable.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

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