A wise man once said, “Keep your friends close and your ice cream–making friends closer.”
Or that’s what he would have said, had he known the power of ice cream to bring about world peace and unite the genders and the generations. Perhaps we fudge the truth a bit, but the point is, when you have friends like the team at SoCo Creamery, family dinners, holidays, and backyard hang-outs achieve a whole new level of awesome. That’s why we invited them to take part in a festive ice cream social, and why we’re giving you, fellow foodies, a behind-the-scenes peek at this crafter of extraordinary, all-natural, ultrapremium ice cream.
SoCo was founded in 1989 in the Berkshires by Danny Mazursky and his family, with a simple philosophy: “We wanted to make small-batch, family-owned, craft ice cream,” he explains. They started by sourcing only top-quality New England milk, both to support the local economy and to ensure a superior, hormone- and chemical-free product. They experimented until they hit on the perfect formula for their own proprietary base mix—a smooth, rich, creamy, and not overly sweet treat that’s a far cry from most grocery store pints and scoop-shop bulk ice creams. The rest was flavor-building history.
From a humble handful of flavors, SoCo’s offerings have exploded into 50 variations on ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. Over the years, they’ve expanded their local sourcing to include berries, herbs, and even coffee (we’ll get to that shortly). Throughout their two decades in happy-making operation, they’ve dedicated themselves to getting better, season after season, but one principle has remained the same: SoCo uses no artificial or junky ingredients—like the corn syrup, carrageenan, and food colorings often found in store-bought ice creams. And with a limited number of ingredients and inclusions made by hand in SoCo’s test studio, you can be assured that if you’re going to splurge on a calorie-rich snack, you’re getting the healthiest, most natural version you can find outside your own ice cream maker.
While SoCo’s Vanilla, Espresso Cookie, and Dirty Chocolate are perennial best-sellers, and with great reason, we’re partial to several other flavors. Looking for the refreshing zip of Mint Chip, sans green food dye? SoCo’s is light and herby—you know, the way mint should taste—with nary a green blob in sight. The Salted Caramel strikes just the right balance between sweet and savory, with a crunchy surprise throughout. And we could wax poetic about the all-grown-up, fruity-with-a-bite Mission Fig, the tangy Ginger, or the Lemon Poppy, a special seasonal flavor that knocks our socks off with its silky texture and zesty taste. But instead we’ll share that select flavors of SoCo ice creams are available throughout the Northeast in restaurants, scoop shops, and gourmet grocery stores, which gives us all dozens of ways to enjoy a cone or bowl of creamy goodness.
This year, SoCo is also offering a variety of limited-edition Berkshire collaborations, featuring other locally made food and drinks, such as a Maple Bacon made with the luscious syrups of Sweet Brook Farm, and a Cinnamon Doughnut flavor based on Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe’s eponymous goodies. But the tour de force just might be the three flavors of coffee ice cream—of varying intensities and sweetness—made with hand-roasted coffee beans from Six Depot. We’d happily trade our usual cup of morning java for a mini bowl of this rich, earthy, and subtly flavored ice cream all summer long.
Danny believes that these collaborations not only help to keep the SoCo staff creative, but also allow the company to be part of the economic fabric of the Berkshires and the region’s emerging “brand.” (For more on the Berkshire food movement, check out this article from the Boston Globe online.) In the same vein, the company also makes it a point to support local civic groups, churches, schools, and arts venues by providing product free of charge for their own ice cream socials and fund-raising events.
Snacks with a health and community conscience? We’re in. And we’re counting the days to our next ice cream social. Until then, follow SoCo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your daily sweet scoop.