Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream
21 S. Ninth St.
After dining at Booches, we decided to walk around Columbia's charming town square for a bit to let the monkeys get their ya-yas out before hitting the road again. As we strolled down Ninth, we came across a little dog.
And then we saw this sign:
Shakes, sundaes, splits, boozey drinks, and kids eat free! What could be better than that? "Let's get some ice cream!" I said.
Sparky's is one of those funky, homegrown places with a lot of personality, like Otherlands. Inside the chairs were all hand-painted and mismatched. The walls featured local art--crocheted Papa Smurfs, Garfields, and Elvis. There was a flavor suggestion board overflowing with tiny pieces of paper, pictures of customers, etc. And yes, it was packed with people, both young and old.
This is my kind of place. In fact, I once had dreams of opening my own ice cream shop. I was going to call it The Purple Cow and I was going to sell kids' consignment clothes in the back. (And I suppose I was going to serve ice cream with Satchel slung onto my body.)
It's probably best that I kept my day job.
Anyways, the ice cream flavors were all as fun as the decor--coconut chocolate chip, green tea, white russian, mango, coffee, blueberry, etc. However, what Warren immediately noticed was the "Adult Beverage" section. (In real life, it isn't blurry!)
"I want a Guiness shake!" he said excitedly. However, when it came time to order, he opted for a scoop of green tea. I went for the coconut chocolate chip and Jiro ordered cinnamon. Satchel, inexplicably, wanted nothing.
"Whatever, dude," I said.
The servers were all college aged and hippified, and I had no doubt that Sparky's was the coolest place in town. Because it was bustling we went outside to eat our ice cream. Jiro ate about half of his before giving it to Satchel and demanding mine. Then he gave mine to Satchel and I inherited the cinnamon. "Mmm, it tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch," I said, relating to the monkeys on their level.
We walked around a bit and then headed to the car. I noticed the YouZeum and told Warren we should come back through Columbia on our way back to Memphis. It seemed like it would be pretty easy to spend several days in Columbia without ever getting bored (or hungry)!
Ten days later, we did return, thanks to the siren call of the Guiness Float. (Sadly, we did not have time for the YouZeum.) It was about 8pm on Friday night and Sparky's was REALLY packed this time. Satchel decided he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice and immediately said, "I want what you had last time." Unfortunately they didn't have coconut chocolate chip this time, so he opted for the cookies and cream. Jiro got his all time favorite, vanilla. (Whatever.) Me? Chocolate chip peanut butter. Mmmm.
Warren asked the girl behind the counter what flavor came with the Guinness Float and she said it was his choice. He asked for a recommendation and she said, "I don't like Guiness, but a lot of people get it with chocolate." (Personally, I would have taken a cue from Jiro and gone with vanilla.) The sign clearly said that adult beverages had to be consumed on the premises, so we took a seat by the window.
The kids discussed Pokemon strategies...
And Warren slurped down his Guiness Float like it was the best thing ever. (I had a sip, but I'm not a big fan of Guiness.)
I enjoyed just sitting back and taking in the ambiance. The crocheted dolls were hilarious and there were lots of posters stuck to the window--including one for local faves, Jeffrey James and the Haul who were playing the next day! If we weren't en route to the fabulous City Museum in St. Louis, I would have insisted on staying the night.
Once we all finished our ice cream, we decided to make a bathroom run. They had a single unit for both men and women and on the door was a sign saying they had won "Best Restroom" in a local poll. I'm not sure who the other contenders were, but it was a pretty cool bathroom. It too had lots of local art and interesting things to look at like an old TV and another stone Sparky dog. It did not, however, have a changing table. That might be the one thing I'd say is bad about Sparky's. Overall, it is my dream place. Good, homemade ice cream, welcoming atmosphere, locally owned, and affordable. (I suppose people not receiving free kids' cones might find it a bit pricier than I did.)
If you are ever in the area, check it out!