Wes Guptill says people in the Capital Region are going soft.
Fortunately, he can still count on some men and women who favor hard living.
Guptill owns Guptill's Ice Cream — also known as Guptill's Coney Express — a major spring, summer and autumn attraction on New Loudon Road (Route 9) in Latham. The business opens in the middle of March every year, and serves soft and hard ice cream cones, cups and dishes into early November.
The Guptill ice cream business, located next to the family's Guptill's Arena, opened in 1995.
"We tried to find a business that would complement the roller skating business during the slower periods," Guptill said last week, seated at one of the blue metal tables on a side patio. "Right around Memorial Day, the rink starts to slow down because people want to be outside and do things on the weekends outside.
"Ice cream was the easiest and next thing we thought of that would work well next to a family business like the roller skating rink," Guptill added.
While many seasonal ice cream stands close in late summer, Guptill's serves deep into fall.
"Traffic is still good and the weather recently has been fairly mild in the fall," Guptill said. "You might need a jacket at night, but it's not freezing by any means."
During the fall, people go for seasonal flavors such as pumpkin and apple pie and cider doughnut sundaes. Right now, summer flavors are in ascension. Visitors can choose between Maine wild blueberry, banana, orange pineapple and 45 other hard flavors. The smooth and cool crowd must decide between coffee, orange sherbet, peanut butter and 29 other soft flavors that are made on-site.
Guptill said soft ice cream is more popular than hard ice cream. While flavors like strawberry, mint, butter pecan and almond joy are still available, they are not the most popular choices at Guptill's.
Here's the scoop on the top five flavors in both the hard and soft categories, with Guptill offering reasons why.
HARD ICE CREAM
5: Toasted coconut
"It's an ultra-premium ice cream. It's almost a delicacy. It's rich coconut ice cream with toasted coconut pieces in it. It tastes just incredible.
"At a stand like ours, people obviously could come and order strawberry, but with 48 choices of different flavors they've never tasted and you cannot get in a store, they'll usually pick something a little more creative."
4: Chocolate peanut butter cup
"Chocolate peanut butter speaks for itself, people love the combination. It also has mini peanut butter cups in it, which is an extra little flair. Our flavors are custom made, and that's what we're able to do - take a flavor, not just chocolate, put a peanut butter ripple through it and add things to it that are unique like real peanut butter cups. It's cold, it's smooth and it's delicious."
"Chocolate ice cream is a standard and many people love it, plain old chocolate. It's very velvety to the tongue, very chocolatey, that drives sales. It's also used for many sundaes. Rather than getting more deluxe flavors, most people will stick with a sundae with a normal flavor like chocolate."
2: Peanut butter pie
"Peanut butter pie is the vanilla version of chocolate peanut butter. It's vanilla with a peanut butter swirl, it has peanut butter cups in it but it also has the actual pie crust in the ice cream, so it's like having peanut butter pie. It's like a graham cracker ribbon through the ice cream and it really brings out the taste."
"I would love to tell you that it was something very exotic, but it's old-fashioned vanilla. Vanilla stays the same because for kids it's the number one, go-to flavor in hard. If you have a bunch of kids all under six years old, you're not going to experiment with them. You know they like vanilla, you'll probably put rainbow sprinkles or chocolate sprinkles on it. But at least you'll know the smaller kids in general will eat that and love it. It's also the number one flavor put in sundaes by far. If you're going to have a hot fudge sundae or a butterscotch sundae or a hot caramel sundae, the majority of people will go with vanilla."
SOFT ICE CREAM
5: Black raspberry vanilla twist
"People like the twist flavors. Black raspberry is an old-time flavor, even in hard it sells fairly well. But in soft, black raspberry is just a standard that twists with vanilla and it's just so popular."
4: Mint chocolate twist
"A lot of these flavors, you can't get anywhere else. Something exotic like this, a lot of people try it. It's a lot like mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is very popular. For soft lovers, if they can twist mint with chocolate and maybe put chocolate chips on it as well, you can literally have mint chocolate chip soft ice cream. It's green - you can just get mint, but most people like these twists."
3: Orange sherbet vanilla twist
"That's like an old-fashioned Creamsicle taste. In this area, it's been around since the '50s. It's one of those standard soft flavors where, if you were going to have maybe one other soft flavor, it would be orange sherbet vanilla twist, just because it's been around so long.
"It's pretty exclusive to the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area. You can't get that in other locations. But around here, probably because old-time ice cream stands during the '50s might have offered it, it's a huge seller."
2: Chocolate peanut butter twist
"As we learned from the hard, chocolate peanut butter is a big thing. We're able to twist it with chocolate. You can also get just peanut butter, it sells fairly well, but once again the twists are king. People want the peanut butter twisted with the chocolate."
1: VANILLA CHOCOLATE TWIST!
"It's not exotic, vanilla chocolate twist. You can have both the vanilla and the chocolate in the same cone. A lot of people just like the standards. It's like a cheese pizza, I guess."