The search for non-dairy products in Dairyland
Our writer researched the best (and only) places in the Valley that serve non-dairy ice cream. Here’s what she found
Sawyer Hoff, photos by Anna Sutton
Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or just want something light on a hot day, dairy-free ice cream options are extremely important. I’m what I like to call a “mostly vegan”: I do my best to eat an entirely plant-based diet (for environmental and dietary reasons), but will occasionally have non-vegan foods – sometimes accidentally, sometimes not.
Anyway, I only eat non-dairy ice cream because the alternative gives me too much stomach trouble. I called 15 – yes, 15 – different ice cream parlors in the valley and found that only five were selling non-dairy options. Three of those five places serve Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, which usually has a variety of non-dairy options, so I went to all of those places anyway. My non-dairy housemate, Anna, came with me to all five locations so we could both give our honest feedback on their non-dairy options.
1. C & J’s Candy Store & Scoop Shoppe (342 Main St. E, Menomonie)
C&J’s, the first stop on our hike, serves Chocolate Shoppe ice cream. With an Italian gelato flavor on the menu, we made our decision relatively easily. We had a scoop of lemon raspberry Italian ice cream (with sprinkles, of course) and it was delicious. There’s something about Chocolate Shoppe’s Italian gelato that’s so light and refreshing, and the consistency is super soft and amazing. We were happy.
2. Custer’s Cones (17183 50th Ave., Chippewa Falls)
Our second store also sold Chocolate Shoppe ice cream and again there was only one non-dairy flavor. Luckily this one was different so we tried the Italian Carrot Mango ice cream. I was reluctant, because the carrot ice cream? yuck. But it was by far the best. It had the same amazing texture and it was perfectly sweet.
3. Olson Ice Cream (80 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire)
My roommate and I had been to Olson’s several times, so we knew they had some good stuff. We were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have one but of them options we could choose from. We had the strawberry and banana sorbet, which we had mixed feelings about. If you’re looking for a non-dairy ice cream substitute with the closest texture to ice cream, this is your man. But it didn’t have as much flavor as Italian ice cream. I said “yay” to him, but my roommate said “no”.
4. Ramone’s Ice Cream (503 Galloway Street, Eau Claire)
Again, we had been to Ramone’s several times and always loved the flavors of the soy ice cream. Ramone’s is arguably the smelliest place in the Valley since they make all of their waffle cones in-house. We were heartbroken to find that they didn’t have soy flavors that day, but they did have three flavors of Italian gelato. Because we had already tried two earlier in our trip that day, we chose the remaining option, Electric Watermelon. Honestly, we were a bit fed up with Italian gelato and wanted a change. Fortunately, Ramone’s offers granitas, which combine an Italian gelato flavor with lemonade. A dairy-free milkshake, if you will. It was more sour than we expected, but quite delicious. We even got icing on the cake, which was, in fact, the icing on the cake.
5. Casey Creamery (4740 Keystone Crossing, Eau Claire)
Casey’s only sells its non-dairy flavors in pints, which was good because it just meant more for later. I was thrilled to see that they had two different non-dairy flavors that were not fruity. I picked up a quart of oatmeal cookies and a quart of pumpkin spice, and let me say, wow. They were both amazing and provided a perfect way to end this dairy free day.