Ice Cream: Soft-Serve

Nothing says summer like a chocolate-vanilla swirl.

best soft serve ice cream boston

The Original Boston Frosty can be found at the corner of Boylston and Arlington streets throughout the summer. (Photograph by Jared Leeds)

One Sweet Swirl

Our favorite summertime indulgence? A soft-serve twist in a cone from the Original Boston Frosty, located at the corner of Arlington and Boylston streets on the Common. The truck, which celebrates its 25th season this summer, serves upward of 500 cones on a busy day. “We see the same faces every year,” says owner Peter Costa. “I’ve got kids that used to come up to the truck in a stroller, and now they drive up to get their ice cream.”

The most popular offering from the truck—which also serves up root-beer floats, banana splits, orange freezes, and so on—is, of course, a simple swirl cone. “It’s vanilla and chocolate. That’s it,” Costa says. “Is there any other ice cream flavor?”

Why Soft-Serve Means Summer

By Leah Mennies

I have nothing against hard ice cream. I was raised in a home where ice cream wasn’t merely some special-occasion treat—it was something to be consumed daily, a natural extension of dinner. The second we’d clear our plates from the kitchen table, my sisters and I would run to the freezer and grab the half-gallon tub—usually Breyers vanilla—and we’d take turns spooning hunks into small ramekins. Nowadays, I squirrel away pints of J. P. Licks Brownie Brownie Batter in my freezer, and eat it nightly out of those very same ramekins, which I stole from my parents when I left for Boston University.

So, yes, hard ice cream is a wonderful, essential part of a well-balanced, happy life. But for me, things begin to change come summertime. My family used to spend summer weekends in the Pocono Mountains, in Pennsylvania. A couple of miles down the road sat the Junction, an orange-and-white-striped shack with a massive, neon-lit cone-shaped sign. On those weekends, it was my job to take down the family requests on a yellow Post-it note, and wait in the long line with my grandfather to order a variety of vanilla, chocolate, and swirl cones, with the occasional addition of rainbow sprinkles (or, if my mother was feeling especially lenient, a dunk in the molten, quick-hardening chocolate). It was at the Junction that I developed my infatuation with the soft-serve cone, and where I learned that, during the summer, anyway, soft-serve is superior to hard ice cream. Sure, I recognize that endorsing a product with an ingredient list that reads like the back of a bag of crappy candy may sound suspect. But I don’t care—it’s simply a statement of fact that when it’s hot out, hard ice cream has nothing on its humble swirled sibling.

You can’t craft boutique batches of soft-serve in your kitchen, you can’t buy it by the pint, and the truth is that the quality of the ingredients doesn’t really matter that much. In all its airy creaminess, soft-serve was created for one thing and one thing alone: to be consumed outdoors, in sweltering weather. In other words, it’s just not summer until a cake cone of chocolate-vanilla swirl is in my hand.

You’ve got to search hard to find great soft-serve in the Boston area. We did the work for you.

Celebrity Pizza | Watertown

In addition to soft-serve cones, floats, and freezes, you can find the elusive hard-chocolate dip here as well.

Area Four | Cambridge

The restaurant makes its soft-serve from scratch, in rotating flavors like salted caramel and passion fruit.

Off the Menu
The Gallows | South End

Baby-size cones of vanilla soft-serve are available to cap off a poutine-heavy meal—all you have to do is ask.

Want more?

Check out our complete summer ice cream package.