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The Best Ice Cream In Wheaton

By: Jesse Kemmetmueller


For those who have the chance to visit the small Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Illinois, there may be nothing more charming or quaint than visiting its downtown on a busy Summer night. Across several hours, the local restaurants, shops, and parks will cycle through hundreds of people. Families and family members have a plethora of opportunities as to where to eat, but nowhere in Wheaton is there as much direct competition as there is with the four ice cream parlors -- Kilwins, Grahams, Kimmers, and Dairy Queen. I’ve hearn stalwart defenders on each camp so, when presented with this opportunity, I decided to answer this question clearly and as definitively as possible: when presented with all options, which parlor is dessert-goers most likely to visit -- and why?

Before even considering consulting the internet, I attempted to answer this question on my own accord. I sent a survey to over 40 individuals -- mostly teenagers -- and the results were both conclusive and unexpected. When asked to rank the previously mentioned four parlors, Kimmers Ice Cream came out on top regarding taste (32% of votes), atmosphere (39% of votes), and customer service (a whopping 44% of votes). Following that performance, Dairy Queen also ranked very highly in taste, but faltered in atmosphere and customer service (valid, as DQ doesn’t even have any indoor setting), with Kilwins and Grahams fighting neck-and-neck to pick up the rest of the available points. My findings online tended to match my own observations. A July, 2021 article by local newspaper, The Patch, attempted to answer the same question: “To shed the spotlight on local eateries, we recently asked Wheaton residents to weigh in on their favorite ice cream shops. Nearly 50 readers responded, and they overwhelmingly chose... Kimmer's Ice Cream, 109 E. Front St., Wheaton!” Across the article, those defending this choice wrote that Kimmers “always have great flavors and nice staff” and that Kimmers “make their own ice cream, and it is just absolutely delicious! Very creamy!” So then, is that it? Kimmers wins “Best Ice Cream in Wheaton” in a landslide thanks to their quality ingredients, great flavors, and excellent customer service? Well, not quite. See, there’s one more curveball to throw into this equation, something that may disproportionately affect some more than others: price.

When looking through my survey results, Kimmers scored top billing in every category except one: personal favorite -- arguably the most important. There, Dairy Queen came in first (17 votes), and Kimmers in second (14 votes). This discovery may be initially surprising, but the data actually backs this up. One of the final questions on the survey was this: “yes or no -- do you believe that your favorite ice cream location is priced fairly?” 73% of respondents clicked yes, but of those 27% who clicked no, the ratio was lowest for those who also checked “Dairy Queen” as their favorite spot to grab ice cream. This proves that, at least in the teenage crowd, people are willing to put up with a less-than-stellar taste and atmosphere if it means a better deal. However, among other demographics, this claim seems to hold much less weight. Yelp.com is a great resource that can be used to obtain a rough estimate of the general opinion of a restaurant. Under the tab “Best Ice Cream in Wheaton”, Kimmers came through on top with 4.7 stars (of 5), per 87 reviews. Following this we have Grahams in 3rd, Kilwins in 4th, (this list also contains ice cream locations outside of the localized Downtown area), and Dairy Queen all the way down in 11th, with a meager 2.5 stars. Almost all of the negative reviews stem from the taste of the ice cream. Zach E. said “The ice cream is too frothy and airy.” Kaitlyn N stated, “We finally got our cones, we both took a nice lick and they tasted like sour milk!” Juxtaposed with Dairy Queen’s negative reviews, Kimmers’ were almost always about the price -- with only one or two exceptions.

If a Wheaton newcomer was to ask what was the best spot to grab ice cream, they might be expected to get some pretty heated responses. However, the answers -- at least in this experiment -- were surprisingly clear. Kimmers offers the highest quality product, no questions asked. They’re the complete package: great ice cream, great seating, great people. However, not everyone is looking for the highest-quality, most expensive product all the time. For that reason, Dairy Queen is also immensely popular, despite not quite stacking up with its fiercest competition. Every option has value; come to Downtown Wheaton on a Friday night, and you are very likely to see lines coming out of all four options.


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