July 4, 2016

The Taste of Summer: Yarnell’s Ice Cream

When my family goes on trips during the summer, ice cream always plays a starring role. Whether it’s a scoop from the historic ice cream parlor on the town square or a root beer float from the local diner, it’s just understood that ice cream will somehow be a part of these memories for our three kids.


But the joy isn’t limited to vacations. Even in the backyard after running through the sprinklers or splashing around in plastic wading pools, there’s just nothing happier than a drippy cone on a hot summer’s day. (One summer, we may have even allowed milkshakes in the bathtub at the end of the day.)

Many of us grown-ups probably also have fond memories of making ice cream during the summer.

Mitch Evans, vice president of sales for Yarnell’s Premium Ice Cream, certainly does. “I remember going to my grandparents’ house and making ice cream on their picnic table on Sunday afternoons when I was 6 or 7,” he recalls. “We experimented. Vanilla, Orange Crush, bananas, chocolate… We mixed and matched whatever was available in the pantry that day.”

There’s even (of course) a product devoted to the very concept: the Nostalgia Old Fashioned Ice Cream Maker, available all over the Internet and at all major retailers.

The nostalgia is conveyed well in ice cream parlors like Spark Café at the Walmart Museum in Bentonville, which also captures the glory days of ice cream parlors.


According to the Walmart Museum, Sam Walton had a strong love of ice cream. “Butter pecan, to be exact. Alice Walton remembers many happy memories of often going for ice cream with her dad, something special the two of them shared.

The Spark Café Soda Fountain is a tribute to Sam’s love of ice cream. The café proudly serves Yarnell’s. Albert Yarnell, founder Ray Yarnell’s son, remembers the days of delivering ice cream with his dad to Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin store in Newport, Ark. Yarnell’s was the very first ice cream Sam ever sold, so the tradition has been kept alive at The Spark Café.”


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Yarnell’s itself is steeped in tradition, tracing its roots back to 1932. Ray Yarnell survived the Depression and steadily grew the business by selling 5-gallon metal cans of ice cream to local drug stores and ice cream parlors. Through a series of acquisitions, Yarnell’s became the last Arkansas-based ice cream manufacturer. Now owned by Schulze & Burch Biscuit Company of Chicago, Yarnell’s continues to rely on the same original formulas and recipes that have been enjoyed by generations of Arkansans.

Says Evans, who has been with the company for more than 30 years, “I’ve never given a person an ice cream cup or cone who didn’t soon have a smile on his or her face. That’s what makes the job so rewarding.”


Also bringing smiles to all ages is Scoop, Yarnell’s official mascot. Clad in an all-white ensemble adorned with a black bow tie and old-school delivery cap, he can be spotted at festivals and events throughout the summer with Yarnell’s Divco, America’s most iconic style of delivery truck that was once used as a home delivery vehicle by dairy producers.

While you can find more unusual flavors with other brands, Yarnell’s tends toward the classics, like its top-selling summer staple, Homemade Vanilla. This commitment to traditions and maintaining a focus on quality and taste are why your grandparents’ ice cream is also your kids’ favorite.

Like the ice cream itself, there’s just something comforting about the fact that this delicious institution has been preserved.

Here’s to celebrating new and old summer traditions alike – with Yarnell’s, of course!


April Fatula

April Fatula is the media relations manager for Eric Rob & Isaac. She lives in Searcy with her husband and three children and dreams alternately of being a travel writer and drinking her coffee while it's still hot.