Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring Shots.

Since it actually feels like Spring today and not Summer, it seemed like a good day to post up a few shots from random sites around town. I'll let the images do most of the speaking for themselves...

(You can try to click on an image to get a full screen view. Photos are shrunk a bit to fit into blogger's size limits so this doesn't always work though.)

Manhan Rail Trail gets some color back.

Daffodils mixing it up with the weeds trailside.

Williston campus in bloom.

Trash as art? Spotted on the side of Sunrise Bakery.

Cherry blossom house in Florence.

Front view.

Pond in bloom.
Dandelions enjoying the Williston views.

In conclusion, happy customers.

Things have settled into a more typical Spring pace, so hopefully they'll be more Spring shots to follow. Stay tuned. As for the kiddo shots, those usually find their way into the digital photo frame on the shop counter...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cool Shot.

Local roving photographer, Patrick Brough, who can now be found over at MassLive's Bay Road Photo, posted this shot the other day. Seems he got use of a fisheye lens for the weekend and took it on a wander around town Sunday morning. Lucky for me, he happened by the shop and caught this sweet shot. Now I really feel like I work in a fish bowl...

Hope you're enjoying this steamy weather. Definitely a banner weekend for ice cream sales. Thanks for coming by. One more day of April summerlike bliss, and I guess it's back to 'normal'. But then again, who knows what crazy weather lurks around the next corner here in New England.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Who is the Original 'Tom' anyway?

I have a once a year customer who drops in every time he's home to visit family. While he's ordering up his favorite flavor, he always asks me, 'So who did they name Mt. Tom after anyway?' I've tried to get that answer for him a couple of times, but inevitably always got distracted and never quite got it done.

Well, along comes a link to a cool youtube documentary about all things Mt. Tom (the mountain not the ice cream). It's by Robert Schwobe, and it's really good. Lots of great pictures, history, stories, and useful local trivia. (Hat Tip: Western Mass Nostalgia Forum via MassLive Easthampton Forum)

As I suspected, sure enough, it includes the answer to my yearly question, who was Tom?

According to Robert, Tom was Captain Roland Thomas, commissioned by the township of Springfield back in 1653, along with Captain Eliza Holyoke (you can guess which direction he went), to form new plantations west and north of Springfield. They traveled along the Connecticut River to also 'discover' Nanotuck, which we now know as Northampton. You can hear and watch the whole story here... I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but I'll be sure to pass along more interesting trivia as I get further into it...

In the meantime, it looks like summer is here, so must go make ice cream. Hope to see you this weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Retail 101.

Before the summer kicks in this weekend (80's expected here for you long distance ICD readers), I thought today, a 48 degree rainy one, would be a good day to talk candy shop. Granted, running the candy store part of the biz isn't what might be considered rocket science, it does require its own care and feeding. Like any retail business I suppose, two simple rules hold:

1. Keep the shelves stocked.
2. Keep the shelves stocked with stuff people actually want.

Or in my case, keep the jars stocked with stuff people want.

So aside from usual 'supply chain management' stuff (coincidentally, this was what I did in my first career, albeit I was managing optical network components and not giant gummy snakes), I'm always on the lookout for which jars are 'moving' and which ones are not. Case in point above, the gummy techno bears, were definitely not.

So they have been replaced by...

Salt water taffy. Just in time for this weekend's arrival of summer.

And with the come and gone of Easter, that freed up some spots for a few new SKU's, (If I actually used the term 'stock keeping unit'. I much prefer 'candy jar'.) Let me introduce a few of the new candies on the block...

Jelly Belly Soda Pop Shoppe mix. Cream soda, Dr. Pepper, Grape, Orange... They actually have an Ice Cream Parlor mix too, but unfortunately it's associated with some 'other' ice cream shop. Lame.

Moving right along...

Gummy Fried Eggs.

Because I can.

Sixlets. By the scoopful. (Hat Tip: Kris P.) Which reminds me, suggestions are more than welcome. If I can get it, I'll bring it in for you. It's still gotta earn its rightful place on the shelf to stay, but I'm always up for trying a new candy variety.

Tried to get this one, but apparently it's only available in Wisconsin. The cool part of this story is the customer who requested it actually went to Wisconsin and brought some home. Even better, they brought one in for me. Thanks to that guy, didn't catch his name...

And on another nutty note, we now have buttercrunch... (FYI: I made a batch of buttercrunch ice cream with it today too.)

And the return of Kookaburra black licorice. If you're into black licorice, this is the stuff...

So that's about it from candyland. Hope this entry left you hankerin' for somethin' sweet.

We're open until 9.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thanks for your vote.

The Valley Advocate just announced the winners of their 2009 'Best Of the Valley' readers' choices of favorites for all good things, Springfield and west. If you're anywhere within the 413 area code, I'm sure you've seen the Valley Advocate and are well familiar with their 'Best of' lists. You may not always agree with their politics, but there's no denying theirs is the list every local biz aspires to be on.

I know when I started Mt. Tom's more than 5 years ago, making the Advocate's Best of list was one of my goals, right from day one.

Well, I'm happy to report, with your support, Mt. Tom's has made the list again. Third place under the Edibles & Eateries - Ice Cream. That other place in Northampton has a twenty-five year head start, and dare I say, a bit of an edge in walking traffic, tough to beat at this point. But who knows, if Easthampton is destined to become the new Northampton, anything can happen. All I can do is stay focused, make the best ice cream I can, hire the best and friendliest and coolest scoopers, and let the chocolate chips fall where they may.

In the meantime, making the list is still pretty sweet.

Thanks again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Days they Get Longer.

There's a common saying in small business, 'Don't be open when you want to be open. Be open when your customers want you to be open.' In the spirit of that thought, along with the corollary, 'make hay when the sun shines,' it seems time to start extending the scoopday here at Mt. Tom's. You'll likely be happy to know, the 8pm close has been safely packed away with the box of ski stuff in the basement, where it will remain until cold weather returns in the Fall.

Here's where we're at:

Now open every day but Monday (just 2 more mondays closed) until May 1st. Noon - 9pm.

Starting May 1:
Open 7 days
Sunday - Thursday: Noon-9pm
Friday, Saturday: Noon - 9:30pm

And Starting June 1st:
Open 7 days
Sunday - Thursday: Noon - 9:30pm
Friday, Saturday: Noon - 10pm.

Toying around with being open until 10 every night, but haven't quite decided on that yet...

See you soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Bunny Depot.

Hope you're enjoying this fine and Good Friday.

Just a quick plug for all things fit for an Easter basket can be found right here....

From handmade solid chocolate bunnies to chocolate bunnies on sticks to Easter bunny corn. And not to mention we've got 38 flavors of Jelly Bellies. At just $6.95 a pound, try getting that kind of deal at the mall...

It's getting tight, but there is still time to order up an ice cream cake or pie for your Easter dinner too. 529-2929.

We return to the usual rants and ice cream trivia next week. Until then, I hope you and yours have a great holiday & weekend.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ice Cream beats the Dow.

A common question I get in the shop these days is 'how is this economy affecting your business?' Makes sense, since we get bombarded every 3 seconds by every form of media telling us how dire things are, who isn't still a bit nervous about things. Our collective moods may swing with the daily performance of the stock market, but generally caution and financial anxiety continue to prevail. So to answer that first question from the ice cream peddling front, I offer up this from the current on-line Newsweek. Standing tough at position number one in their list of 'recession-resistant businesses', you guessed it, ice cream. Nice.

Nail salons coming in at number two was a little surprising though. Alcohol sales, not so surprising.

So far so good here in scoopland, thanks to y'all. This time of year is more about the weather. Some great weather weekends in March made for a banner month. This week, well not quite as brisk. Bring back the 60's!

In any event, hope to see you soon. You still need to come in and sample that Basil ice cream, don't you? Also have fresh batches of strawberry cheesecake, sweet cream, mexican chocolate, and burnt sugar today (to name just a few...).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Basil Ice Cream.

Been curious to try this one since the end of last season, but I figured I'd never go thru a whole tub of it at the off-season pace. So as the fine weather returns and the demand for ice cream cranks right up again, so does my opportunity to try new and interesting flavors. Definitely one of the best parts of being an ice cream guy. I've got a big list of new and rarely made flavors ready to go for the new season. One of the first ones up, you guessed it, basil ice cream. I know that basil is great on top of a slice of tomato and some mozzarella cheese, but in ice cream, I wasn't quite so sure. A couple of customers have been asking for it for a while now, having enjoyed it as a dessert at one of their favorite Boston restaurants.

So now on scoop, basil ice cream. Give it a try. I dare you. It's definitely different, but it does seem to work for the die-hard basil lovers.

If you're looking for something a bit more mainstream, I made up some malted vanilla and malted milk ball vanilla today too. Let the games begin.

Speaking of games, hope to see you at the Riverside charity auction tomorrow night (friday). I'll be scoopin' up some interesting flavors there too...

And on a completely different topic, if you're into marshmallow peeps, check out this guys blog... PEEPS. He emailed me about it, since one of the many, many peeps links is to my blog entry about the chocolate-dipped ones. I hope you and your peeps enjoy it.

Hope you got out on this fine day. See you soon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fear not, Pistachio Ice Cream lovers.

I just got off the phone with my pistachio vendor, and he has assured me that the pistachio 'meats' they provide are not part of the current recall. Here's the story, in case you hadn't gotten wind of it yet. Pistachios involved in the recall are of the dry roasted variety, grown and processed in California. The ones we use in our Pistachio Nut ice cream are oil roasted fresh by our vendor in Boston.

Here's the gist of the story:

Supermarkets pulled pistachios and some pistachio-laden foods from their shelves Tuesday, moves resulting from this week's Food and Drug Administration warning to consumers not to eat the nuts because they could be tainted with salmonella.The FDA is scrambling to prevent a repeat of a recent salmonella outbreak from peanuts that has sickened more than 690 people in 46 states. And in Sacramento on Tuesday, a lawmaker introduced legislation to tighten safety standards for foods processed in California.

From what my vendor tells me, the FDA may have underreacted to the peanut contamination recently, and is likely overreacting to the current pistachio one. Although it's hard to argue that over isn't better than under. Nonetheless, authorities are advising people to hold off on popping those pistachios until they can confirm they're not part of this big recall.

And while we're on the topic, the article had some interesting pistachio trivia..

California is far and away the nation's No. 1 pistachio grower, producing 98% of the domestic crop. Globally, it trails only Iran in pistachio farming. About 60% of the crop is exported, making pistachios an important source of foreign currency for both the state and the nation.

Who knew.