In an era of limitless ice cream flavors, including charcoal black ice cream, gorgonzola ice cream, and unicorn ice cream, “Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium” is a must: the seaside institution, located in Bar Harbor, an island town that is home to beautiful Acadia National Park, Maine, has been serving vanilla scoops churned with real lobster meat since 1988. And, at the time, putting real seafood in ice cream was nothing short of extreme.
According to company lore, the owners invented the flavor either to prove to a patron that their ice cream was truly homemade or, as legend has it, in response a customer who visited the shop and commented that the New England outpost offered every flavor except lobster ice cream.
The manager at the time, William Coggins, the Bill in the shop’s name, replied, “Come back tomorrow,” and the ice cream — or at least the legend of the ice cream’s conception — was born.
In any case, the concept has proven its worth as, decades later, people still pass the cartoonish lobster statue at the emporium’s door on their way in to order the absolutely unusual flavor.
Though it’s unclear how much the recipe has been tweaked since its original rendition, today’s batches pack in 1.5 pounds of lobster meat (mostly claw and knuckle) in each two-gallon (about 7,5 l) bucket of ice cream. And, interestinhly, the store sells more than 100 buckets each year.
During high season, parlor employees busily serve scoops to tourists who want to cap a day of hiking, whale watching, and lobster-roll eating with more New England fare. Some annual visitors buy it religiously every time they’re in town, as part of a summer vacation ritual.
Not everyone enjoys the combination, but lot of patrons describe lobster and ice cream as good pairing: The buttery vanilla matches the buttery lobster, which repudiates the belief that seafood and dairy should not mix.
And the most common taste comparison after trying a few licks is frozen lobster bisque.
But if you order it and aren’t a fan, don’t worry: If you avoid the chunks of lobster, you’re just another regular person enjoying vanilla ice cream on a sunny summer day.
Images from web – Google Research