Food Review: The Union City Ice Cream Experience

Near Darke

By Hank Nuwer

When Gosia and I moved to Union City, Ind., we stopped by an antique and nostalgia store on 236 N. Columbia Street.

The building over time served many owners. It hosted a civic club, dry cleaners, a vacuum cleaner store, a Red Cross relief office, a shoe outlet and even a Westinghouse appliance store.

As a sales promotion in 1948, you could buy a newfangled fridge with freezer. The owner threw in three dozen free packs of Birds Eye frozen vegetables.

We bought a bargain-priced antique glass-front bookcase.

That bookcase now bursts with titles of beloved authors John Steinbeck, Jack London, and Robert Frost.

The store sold last year. It opened last September as The Motley Shoppe.

Half the store is reserved for collectibles, antique furniture, and cool kitsch.

The other half is an ice cream emporium.

In the interest of humorous investigative journalism, my wife Gosia and I decided to review the business.

Thus, last hot, steamy Sunday, we attended Sundae School with store co-owner Deanna Livingston.

The first thing I noticed was a whiteboard.

“Free samples,” it read.

“Ah, the price is right,” I said to Gosia.

“What’s the scoop?” we asked Deanna.

She and husband Cleyo operate the business with the help of their children. I call the family the “Motley Crew.”

The shoppe’s dining area is large. White tables with red chairs provide ample seating.

Every seat was occupied.

The owners will build an outside seating area soon.

Deanna, a cheerful woman clad in a T-shirt and do-rag, has the perfect disposition for running dual businesses.

Upbeat and smiling, Deanna and her son Leelynd, 11, not only served a full house of ice cream enthusiasts, but she simultaneously bargained with a customer haggling over an antique’s price.

“Everything’s going on at once,” she said, smiling, and hurried to take yet another family’s ice cream order.

The idea to start a dairy business was her husband’s.

Cleyo Livingston, originally from the Ohio side of Union City, “wanted to try something interesting.”

Opening an ice cream store “had always been his dream,” Deanna said.

They inked a contract with a franchise called the Chocolate Shoppe.

The logo depicts a happy Holstein slurping a cone.

The franchise hearkens back to a single store opening in 1962 in Madison, Wisc.

The franchise has had well over 100 flavors over the years. The Union City store stocks 40 flavors.

Dairy deficiency? No worries. The store serves Italian ices.

Several people at the Wisconsin headquarters invent new ice cream flavors and attach catchy names like Yippee Skippee, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang and Heaps of Love.

Deanna and Cleyo’s shoppe serve Coconut Almond Bliss and Strawberry Cheesecake.

Ingredients include a choice of Oreos, cookie dough, pecans, brownie bits, fruit, nuts and garlic.

Just kidding, no garlic.

Not a bad idea though. We could add a scoop of vodka with potato peels and call it Putin’s Breath or From Vlad to Worse.

The moment of truth came. It was time to order,

I decided. I was gonna go for the gusto of a two-scooper in a waffle cone.

My philosophy of life quite simple. “Man cannot live by soybean burgers and tofu scrambles alone.”

Now, it is true that Gosia has me on a diet.

But, I argue, I’m entitled to rollover calories.

Anyway, I’m not a guy who counts calories.

Not when my wife counts them for me.

A sign in the shoppe promises: “Not low-fat or low calorie or low anything!”

I’ve always believed in signs.

But what to order? It was a snap choice.

I call myself a traditionalist. Gosia defines that term as “Confirmed Fusspot.”

So, I ordered plain vanilla and trademark Zanzibar Chocolate.

The chocolate was dark as William Barr’s smile.

I apologized to Deanna for my lack of adventure. “I always get the same flavor.”

“No problem,” she said. “Lots of people do.”

Both the chocolate and the vanilla tasted awesome.

Gosia, an accountant, did a little calculating.

My double cone delight came to 88g total carbs, 84g net carbs, 28g fat, 14g protein, and 657 calories.

The cost for this taste of Nirvana was just under $5. I dumped the change in a tip jar.

Gosia passed on getting a cone.

She just took photos of the store.

Which is very sad because she always gives me a lick of her cone.

“Canonization is surely ahead of you after death,” I promised Gosia.

That was not a smart thing to say.

My wife threatened to enroll me in a Zanzibar Chocolate 12-step program.

Hank Nuwer is an author, columnist and playwright. He and wife Gosia live on the Indiana side of the Union City state line. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.