Eat, Play, Live

Go back to a sweet time at Gardner’s Candies Ice Cream Parlor

Don't forget to get a dish – the servings are lavish at Gardner's Candies Ice Cream Parlor.
Don't forget to get a dish – the servings are lavish at Gardner's Candies Ice Cream Parlor. Photo provided

Editor’s note: This story is part of the Eat, Play, Live special section.

Here in Happy Valley, many of us are regulars at the Berkey Creamery and Meyer Dairy during the long, hot summers. But if you’re willing to drive 25 minutes, you just may find a new favorite to add to your list of ice cream shops.

It’s a favorite of mine. My parents took me and my three sisters to Gardner’s every time we went to Altoona. It was our treat after a trip. I remember always bringing home leftovers since the servings were so big. Now, my parents carry on the tradition by taking my nieces and nephews.

With delicious Hershey’s Ice Cream, and so much history and character, your trip to Gardner’s Candies Ice Cream Parlor is sure to leave you wanting more. From classic flavors like Whitehouse Cherry and Butter Pecan to more unique ones like Cappuccino Crunch and Peanut Butter Pretzel, to children’s flavors such as Cotton Candy and Rainbow Vanilla, there’s something to please everyone. There are even some sugar-free and low fat options in the mix.

You can choose from a cone, dish, milkshake or other classics like a sundae or banana split. They offer various serving sizes from a child’s size up to three scoops of ice cream, and if more than one flavor interests you, you can always get a scoop of each! My favorite is Cappuccino Crunch with a chocolate swirl, crunchy toffee and coffee-flavored ice cream. My twin and I share this favorite and get it every time we go. Pro tip: these servings are more than generous, so pick one size smaller than you would normally order and ask for a lid so you can take leftovers home with you.

The decor of the shop has an old-time feel, giving you the impression you’ve gone back in time. The marble-topped tables and vintage chairs of red and gold look like they are straight out of the ’50s. In addition, there’s a friendly, small-town atmosphere you don’t see much these days. It’s not uncommon to see a familiar face walk in the door when you’re enjoying your ice cream with the family.

When you’ve polished off your ice cream — or tapped out, saving the rest for later — take a walk through the candy museum to get a true sense of appreciation for the shop’s history and the evolution of the candy-making process. You’ll see much of the equipment that has been used over the years, including tools for mixing chocolate, antique peanut roasters, scales, old-fashioned candy boxes and much more. You can also watch a video that details the chocolate-making process.

Don’t forget to check out the candy section before you go, and grab some Peanut Butter Meltaways or a candy assortment to take home. As you exit the candy museum and make your way to the candy storefront, you’ll find a variety of plush animals for purchase and a coin-operated merry-go-round for children to ride.

Kids of all ages will love the penny candy section that’s set up like an old fashioned candy store. Like your grandparents and great-grandparents did when they were young, you can choose individual candy, like Bit-O-Honey and Necco Wafers, most of which are less than 10 cents.

Once you visit the shop, there’s no doubt its charm will keep you coming back. For locals, the ice cream parlor is a place they visited as a child. Now, as parents, they take their children, and someday they hope to share the experience with their grandchildren and continue to make family memories. If you haven’t visited Gardner’s Candies yet, believe me — the short trip from State College is well worth it. Start a family tradition and enjoy a big dish or a towering cone of Hershey’s Ice Cream.

If you go

Where: 30 W. 10th St., Tyrone