AKRON - I am a fan of ice cream. Among my memories are eating homemade ice cream, which my parents and aunt and uncle churned on our front porch. It was a treat which still resonates in my memory.
So, when I walked up to the window of Strickland's Ice Cream stand on Triplett Boulevard in Akron, it was as if I were back on the front porch, tasting that sweetness which my relatives made with love.
The love is still there with Strickland's Ice Cream, now run by a third-generation family member who follows the same recipe his uncle began. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," is what I said to Strickland's president, Scott Margroff. He nodded his head in approval. What his uncle, Bill Strickland, began in 1936 at the Triplett location still works. It is ice cream made in small batches. When the lines get long, Margroff and his workers start up the old mixing machines and make more.
By using small batches, they keep control of the quality of the ice cream. "I have waited all year for banana," said a woman, who heard it was one of the special flavors of the day. Strickland's only produces four flavors a day -- chocolate and vanilla everyday plus two specialties the company selects for its many varieties of flavors.
No matter the flavors of the day, there is always a line at the old ice cream stand. "It makes you feel great," said Margroff, about the ice cream recipe he inherited from his father who had inherited it from Uncle Bill. "Families come here and have memories," he added.
I sure had memories. Strickland's was as good as the homemade ice cream that my parents made. Really, it was better because I didn't have to wait all day for the ice cream to be made, as I did when I was a kid on the front porch.
Strickland's is so steeped in history; the company uses the old ice cream mixers from years ago. One of them is the original used by the founder when he set up shop across the street from the Goodyear airdock, where its blimp is housed and the old Akron-Fulton airport.
In the old days, couples used to come and watch aviation. It was a cheap date. The only expense was a five cents for each ice cream cone. The price is now higher, but the lure of the Strickland's Ice Cream stand is the same. So much so, the company has ventured out with a few franchises in the area plus one in California and another in Florida.
Margroff loves the work. In fact, he was a police officer who walked away from that job to run the company when his father handed him the reins. "I loved being a police officer," said Margroff. "I went from serving and protecting to serving and scooping," he said, with a wide grin on his face and his hand wielding an ice cream scoop.
If you're looking for a great taste with a lot of history behind it, try Strickland's. Tell 'em I sent you. No, you don't have to tell 'em that. I'll probably be there when you get there.