Objectively speaking, there are three kinds of students at Princeton: T-Sweet people, Halo Pub people and Bent Spoon people—fans of the three ice cream shops in town.
Emotions run high over which is the best. Most students will gladly eat any of them (except for the lactose intolerant, whom I pity, and my roommate Mike, who doesn’t like ice cream and therefore is not to be trusted with animals or happiness). However, each shop has a contingent of rabid partisans who cling to their favorite.
Frankly, until now, I’ve been fairly agnostic on the whole matter. I’ve heard cases for them all, I’ve been to them all, I’ve enjoyed them all. However, in my solemn role as a blogger, I need to take a stand.
This week, for you and science*, I visited every** shop with friends to pick a side.
*I should note that I’m a politics/humanities guy, so I use the word “science” loosely.
**I should also note that I’m ignoring the two froyo places in town, as froyo is ice cream’s illegitimate stepbrother and I consider it to be a wholly inadequate substitute.
Thomas Sweet Ice Cream, better known as T-Sweet, is located just off of campus on Nassau Street. As the closest, it’s the first of the shops that many freshmen discover, and so some imprint upon it immediately, similar to newly hatched ducklings with their mother, and never leave.
T-Sweet has a major selling point: You can get mix-ins. On this visit, I tried a scoop of Vanilla Heath Bar with mix-ins of brownie and peppermint patties to excellent effect. If you’re a fan of new flavor combinations and don’t feel like trekking further into town, T-Sweet is a solid choice.
Located the farthest afield, Halo Pub is about a five-minute walk from campus. This tends to make it the least frequented by students, which can actually be nice—it tends to be less crowded than the others, making it a great spot for a date or just a long chat.
In terms of the ice cream, Halo Pub doesn’t have much in the way of gimmicks. On our research visit, I got one scoop of cookie dough and one of hazelnut. Of all three stores, I’d say that Halo Pub is the way to go if you just want a traditional ice cream cone, although in the colder months, I’m also a big fan of their hot chocolate floats.
Located on Palmer Square, The Bent Spoon is the most unique and often has a line out the door. Unlike the other two shops, Bent Spoon has more of an artisan/gourmet angle to their flavors—often I’ve never heard of many of the options. You always get two small scoops, and sometimes one of the specialty flavors mixes really well with something more traditional, so experimenting is fun (I got a surprisingly good combo of mascarpone and peach).
It’s a different experience, so if you’re adventurous or watch shows where food gets rated on “plating,” Bent Spoon may be for you.
Pro tip: You get way more bang for your buck if you order a milkshake.
I can’t really argue that any of the shops is objectively better for any reason. They’ve all got their pluses. That said, I’m a sucker for the traditional, so I think I give the advantage to Halo Pub. Next time you’re in, grab a hot chocolate float and get comfortable for a nice, long chat.