While the weather remains as unpredictable as ever, there’s a sure sign of the approaching spring happening this week: Gifford’s family owned ice cream stands will open on Friday, March 18.
As of this writing, there’s also a 30 percent chance of snow showers predicted for Friday too. But that probably won’t stop die-hard fans from getting their Maine-made ice cream fix at family-owned stands in Bangor, Farmington, Auburn, Skowhegan and Waterville on Friday.
And snow or no snow, the opening of Gifford’s stands is always exciting.
“I think everyone here at the office is just as excited as everyone else,” said Lindsay Gifford-Skilling, general manager at Gifford’s. “Usually we’re the first ones in line at our Skowhegan stand.”
This year, Gifford’s stands will have a few new flavors too. At the family owned ice cream stands, and select other places selling Gifford’s ice cream in cones too, Strawberry Cheesecake, Sea Salt Caramel Malt, I Scream for Cake, and Bubblegum will join the offerings.
Bubblegum might feel familiar to fans … it’s a returning flavor brought back by popular demand.
“We had some fun with our fans on Facebook this past fall … and they all voted and bubblegum is making a return,” said Gifford-Skilling
I Scream for Cake, a cake-batter ice cream with a bite of cake, rainbow sprinkles, and blue buttercream frosting, will also be available at retail stores as one of two flavors launched to celebrate Acadia National Park’s 100th birthday. The other flavor is Chocolate Brownie Crunch,mix of fudgy brownie chunks dunked in light chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate-coated cookie crunch. According to a press release, Gifford’s has pledged to donate 5 percent of this year’s proceeds from its two newest flavors to Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the park.
So, why those flavors to celebrate Maine’s famed national park? “They just were fun, kind of kid-flavors, kind of birthday-inspired flavors, so it just made the most sense for these two flavors to celebrate Acadia’s birthday,” said Gifford-Skilling.
Meanwhile, at the company’s Skowhegan factory, work is wrapping up on a major construction project to expand the plant and the company’s production capacity. The $1.6 million, 3,810 square foot plant addition has been underway since November, with workers building through winter.
“We’ll be able to pretty much double the ice cream capacity,” said Gifford-Skilling
The expansion coincides with expanding sales of the fifth generation ice cream maker into Northern Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio.
So when do the ice cream stands open? On March 18, the Bangor and Farmington stands will open at 11 a.m. while Auburn, Skowhegan and Waterville will open at noon.
And, there’s free ice cream for fans that evening too. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at each stand, Gifford’s will giveaway a free small (2 scoop) cone to customers. Want to try the newest ice cream stand flavors? A small (2 scoop) cone of new flavors will be $1.99 through April 3.