New Hampshire's Iconic Ice Cream Stands

Take a bite of some edible nostalgia

Photo by Stacy Milbouer

New Hampshire consumes more ice cream per capita than 45 other states. We are devoted to our neighborhood stands with their goofy signs and scratchy picnic benches.

These iconic seasonal businesses have staying power — thriving for generations while other businesses come and go.

Our theory? We want our kids and our kids’ kids to have the same profound summer experience we had. The heady combination of warm weather, nostalgia and root beer floats under the stars is just too hard to resist.

For the last 44 years, Merrimack residents have made their seasonal quest to the crenellated turrets of King Kone in Merrimack, one of the first soft serve stands in southern New Hampshire.

Fifty-year-old Lang’s Ice Cream in Pembroke not only has a pink and jolly anthropomorphized ice cream cone sign to keep its customers coming back, but also a killer view from the picnic benches and a life-sized, cone-licking wooden bear named “Sprinkles,” who “poses” with customers and has been known to “dress” as everything from a hula dancer to Uncle Sam.

The appropriately named Memories Ice Cream, a former dairy farm in Kingston, opened as an ice cream stand nearly 25 years ago. No winking-ice cream-cone-people signs here. The big yellow barn with the attached silo and homemade ice cream, which is made five gallons at a time in a vintage machine, keeps customers coming back. The rocking chairs on the long farmer’s porch out front don’t hurt, either.

 “It’s a landmark,” says Richard Choate, a second-generation owner of Cremeland Drive-In, which opened on Valley Street in Manchester in 1939 under its original name, Mimi’s. “It’s not uncommon for people to come to the drive-in 25 or 30 years after leaving town and ask, ‘Oh, my golly, you’re still here?’ My daughters are in charge now, and I hope we’re here for a long time to come.”

The twirling neon sign on top of Sawyer’s Dairy Bar on Lakeshore Road in Gilford is as iconic to the area as Lake Winnipesaukee itself — beckoning generations of families and young lovers who have been stopping there since the end of World War II. But while it’s always been at the crossroads, it has undergone some tweaks here and there or, as a woman recently wrote on TripAdvisor, “Sawyer’s has expanded in size since our last visit 40 years ago ... but the ice cream is still outstanding.”

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