By Janet Stoica
Ice cream emporiums seem to be few and far between these days, but Dudley’s newest business is a very welcome addition to the local sweets scene. With their homemade small-batch blends of delectable delights, the Ice Cream Pharm on West Main Street has been a sure-fire hit with locals as well as with ice cream aficionados looking to support a neighborhood business and to satisfy their ice cream and sorbet cravings.
Carmela and Aaron Peek of Dudley selected their current location, long vacant, in November 2019 with the idea that they would make the place an adult ice cream and entertainment destination. Their ideas were to offer alcohol-infused ice cream along with weekend musical performances. The place was to be an adult-only attraction.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, has a way of altering plans. “Our plans were suddenly and abruptly changed,” said Ms. Peek, “We’d come up with the ‘Pharm’ part of our store name as we planned on adding CBD (cannabidiol), alcohol, and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to our ice cream products.
We learned that the licensing procedures were cost-prohibitive, and our opening was put on hold indefinitely until the Commonwealth lifted gathering restrictions. We then opted for a fun and family-oriented venue, which has been warmly received by our many satisfied customers.”
Aaron Peek, formerly from Texas and owner of Peek’s Detailing, Tire & Repair Shop of Dudley, had always made his own homemade ice cream. Carmela Peek had owned two successful Italian eateries in Worcester. The couple decided to put their knowledge of food products together. They enrolled at Mystic Ice Cream Boot Camp in Florida to learn the trade of Emery Thompson, formerly associated with the original owners of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. They educated themselves on the frozen dessert business to the max. They learned the subtle points of mix-ins, small-batch details, and tasted the finest of ice creams, arriving back in Massachusetts with a new appreciation of ice cream art.
The Peeks also invested in a high-end ice cream making machine “that is the best on the market” according to Aaron. “We can blend in chocolate bars, nuts, fruits, cookies, and other ice cream favorites and the machine runs nice and smooth. We don’t use dyes. Everything is fresh, no colorings, the flavors are from the fruits, cookies, and nuts that we add. Our mint chocolate chip ice cream gets its unique flavor from Andes chocolate mints, the blueberries we use will add their own natural blueness to our ice cream.”
Carmela added “We do not mass produce our ice cream. It’s made one small batch at a time. Each batch is six quarts. We personally shop for all our mix-ins like Snickers candy bars, Milky Ways, pineapple, coconut, cherries, pistachios, and walnuts. Our shakes have add-ins like avocado, protein powder, and matcha green tea. We’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as those are the days that Aaron makes the ice cream!”
In addition to the western-themed life-sized wall graphics that ice cream enjoyers like to have their photos taken in front of, the couple has installed 14 feet of freezer space behind their serving counter to accommodate their ice cream batches and also use an additional commercial freezer unit and refrigerator.
Their two most popular flavors are Oreo Chocolate Chip and Blueberry Crumble. They also have at least three new weekly flavors and, if these flavors sell out owing to their popularity, they are added to their standard list of flavors.
This week’s special flavors were Peanut Butter & Jelly, Strawberry/Rhubarb, and Cotton Candy. Stay tuned to see if they make it to the permanent inventory. Don’t look for cones to be served here though. “Our fresh homemade ice cream is too hard to be put in cones,” said Carmela, “it would break the cone immediately when we try placing the scoop into it. We will, however, add crumbled cone pieces into your cup of ice cream for no extra charge.” Ice cream sizes are the regular 8-ounce cup, large 12-ounce, or pints, and ice cream shakes are 24 ounces of pure bliss.
Because the couple have two family dogs they couldn’t overlook making batches of special doggie ice cream for their furry friends which they also gladly sell to other dog owners. The doggie blend consists of peanut butter, banana, and plain yogurt and “sells out constantly” according to Carmela.
New additions to their ice cream menu include a Glazed Donut a la mode with your ice cream choice along with perhaps a hot fudge topping for an extra charge. Apple cider donuts and ice cream have become a big hit too. Ice cream pies and cakes are also on the menu with special orders gladly taken. A slice of ice cream pie consists of a ¼-piece of pie with your choice of topping. Their staff includes eight ice cream stewards who always seem to enjoy their serving duties. And the flavors? Well, you’ll have to make a trip to the place to check those flavors out. They are also on Facebook.
Coming soon is the ability to order online with curbside pickup.
The Ice Cream Pharm is at 185 West Main Street in Dudley. Store phone: (508) 461-7300; owner’s phone: (774) 696-0193. Hours: Wed-Sun 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays to make the ice cream! (Open on Monday if it’s a holiday.) www.icecreampharm.com.
Janet can be reached at [email protected]