Graeter’s v. Homer’s

The local ice cream shops face off

Jack Soble, Sports Editor

Summertime is fast approaching, and with summer comes a dilemma that all students who stay in town must make. Which ice cream shop in the township is superior: Graeter’s or Homer’s?

Both are an excellent spot to get a tasty treat, whether you’re in the mood for signature flavors, often with massive bittersweet chocolate chips mixed in, or a wide variety of classic delights with a smooth texture.

It’s difficult to call one significantly better than the other, but it is interesting to compare and contrast them.

The two are not at all similar, other than they serve everyone’s favorite warm-weather delicacy.

Graeter’s is a national chain based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, but is of interest to this area given that a new one just opened up on Green Bay Road in , just outside Hubbard Woods. Homer’s is a local favorite, down the aforementioned street in Wilmette.

Graeter’s was first, and with it came the information that their most popular flavor accounts for 35 percent of their sales, and it should not be a surprise to anyone who has been there.

Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip is the crown jewel of Graeter’s. The combination of sweet, fruity ice cream combined with smooth chunks of dark chocolate makes it the most profitable item for the establishment, and, according to Food Network, the fifth-best ice cream in America. This made it an easy choice to order.

Other taste-tested varieties of ice cream, all of which include chocolate chips, were Buckeye (peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter cookie dough. As delicious as it sounds), Bourbon Pecan (more alcohol taste than one would expect) and Salted Caramel (a formerly underrated flavor gaining popularity).

Graeter’s prides themselves in their “French Pot Process,” where, ice cream ingredients are cooked, mixed, and frozen in a “flavor vat.” In comes gourmet chocolate that is eventually broken up into chips, then the ice cream is hand-packed and ready for purchase. A visit to Homer’s came next and it did not disappoint.

Open since 1935, Homer’s specializes in rich, thick, and heavy ice cream, made “the old fashioned way,” per their website. Homer’s more than lives up to that description, featuring over 30 types of ice cream, with some seasonal options as well. They also serve non-dessert food, though they stake their reputation on cold sweet treats.

The product matches the billing with Homer’s. It’s thick, and depending on which option you choose can resemble cookie dough when a pint is opened. It maintains a refreshing taste that has remained a favorite on the North Shore and all of the Chicago area for decades.

Homer’s homemade gourmet creamery’s vast menu can make it tough to choose, but to be completely honest it’s almost impossible to go wrong.

Among the tasters I tried – Homer’s, like Graeter’s and many other ice cream joints, will allow customers to taste-test one-bite samples before deciding on an order – were Coffee Toffee (a slight bitterness that goes perfectly with the sweetness and saltiness of the Heath bar), Burgundy Cherry (named after a type of tree in Japan but shares the greatness of a certain San Diego-based newsman) and a lesser-known seasonal flavor, Toasted-coconut pineapple (which embodies an excellent mixture of freshness and tartness that should be a year-round option).

Eventually I settled on a cone with the empirically best type of ice cream in all the world: Moose Tracks – vanilla ice cream, rich fudge swirls, and peanut butter cups. It was truly sublime.

While I enjoy both ice cream parlors, the majority of students prefer the latter, citing three different reasons. Price (“Gotta have a good calorie to dollar ratio,” said one student), taste, and Homer’s unmatched family atmosphere. Homer’s being Wilmette-based perhaps makes it more appetizing than its Cincinnati counterpart.

Whichever shop you choose, either are sure to satisfy with delicious ice cream, and have been doing so consistently for the better part of a century. Both are excellent spots for New Trier students in the summer of 2017.