For a sweet treat, visit TF Ice Cream, commonly known as Tastee Freez, Boonville’s most nostalgic ice cream shop since 1953. Terry Fortune and his wife changed the name to Tastee Freez after they bought the vanilla-only shop in 1978. With coal mining and nursing jobs, the couple added new flavors to the menu of the corner café on the southeast side of the nearby town east of Evansville. When a national company bought the Tastee Freez name in 2003, Fortune ditched the moniker. The name change to TF Ice Cream stayed close to what Boonville residents knew. “My initials are TF,” Fortune says, “so keeping the name was like a freak accident.”
He also kept his best sellers such as the orange and pineapple sherbet, and my favorite is a combination of the two: TF’s lush orange-pineapple twist sherbet in a cake cone. It’s dense and refreshing. Each lick is the perfect proportion of tangy pineapple and creamy orange.
The sherbet treats draw neighborhood kids and families daily, and the drive-thru line often wraps around the parking lot. Inside, the tiny building buzzes with the vibrating hum of ice cream machines pumping out soft serves, shakes, sundaes, and sherbet. To me, this mechanical purr is what summer sounds like. At the window, employees take orders by paper and pen.
For Fortune, the TF experience is like a vacation to a nostalgic-centric attraction that recalls a decade when hustle and bustle weren’t the norms. “It’s like things slow down,” he says, “as soon as you get in our parking lot.”
Two miles away on Boonville’s square is Bits & Pieces Premium Ice Cream & Desserts. Once a barbershop, the sounds of shavers and trimmers are replaced with the clanging of ice cream scoops and frequent “Mmms.”
Armed with a daily blog, “My Life in Bits and Pieces,” Kentucky native and Boonville transplant Perri Huddleston was a stay-at-home mom of six for 14 years until she opened Bits & Pieces in October 2010 on the corner of Locust and Second streets. Her ice cream business comes loaded with bits of ice cream toppings and pieces of cheesecakes and cakes sold by the slice. The rookie’s following quickly grew, even in chilly weather. “Customers still come out, stomp the snow off their boots, take off their hats and gloves, and eat ice cream,” she says.
The parlor’s lime green and purple walls, adorned with chalkboards of menu items, complement the colorful assortment of the day’s 16 flavors in the dipping cabinets. Huddleston rotates about 130 flavors of premium, hand-dipped ice cream and determines the day’s flavors by her patron requests. Unusual concoctions requested: jalapeno chocolate pecan, green tea, peanut butter graham cracker, and no-bake cookie.
Aside from a bevy of flavors, Huddleston sells a variety of brownie sundaes and even has a Big Bite challenge. This 8-pound, Man vs. Food-type creation consists of eight scoops of ice cream, two bananas, two large brownies, four toppings, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. Since October, seven out of 45 customers successfully have kept it down and earned a free T-shirt and their photo on the wall.