Courtesy of Sweet Melissa's

April 17, 2023

Sweet Melissa’s: An Overshadowded Delicacy

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Spring in Ithaca is full of surprises. You’re either cursed with unrelenting rain and 40 degree Fahrenheit days or blessed with beautiful blue skies and the warmth of the sun. Fortunately, as we all return from spring break, we have been granted the latter. 

With temperatures hitting a high of nearly 80 degrees last week, my mind became overwhelmed with the summer vibes around me, and it was clear I wasn’t the only one. Students and faculty alike swarmed to the slope and Arts Quad, soaking up the mid-spring sun. As I took a stroll I was amazed by the number of people sitting and enjoying the weather. Although their position seemed desirable, I had something else on my mind: ice cream. 

Although it was only mid-April, you could’ve told me it was mid-July. I just had to get a cone in my hand. Many will tell you that the spot for ice cream in town is Purity. That is a wonderful option, and a must try during your time at Cornell, but being such a great day as it was, one could only imagine the gargantuan line that awaits you as soon as you walk in. 

Fortunately, there is another outstanding ice cream parlor that Ithaca has to offer — Sweet Melissa’s. Presumably named after co-owner Melissa Kenny, and possibly adopted after the Allman Brothers’ 1972 classic song “Melissa” (often referred to as “Sweet Melissa”), the quaint ice cream parlor is located off of West Seneca Street, attached to Fall Creek’s beloved Shortstop Deli.  

Sweet Melissa’s has always lived in the shadow of Purity. I, for most of my townie life, only fulfilled my ice cream urges at Purity, never giving anything else a chance. It was only a few summers ago that I started regularly attending Sweet Melissa’s, and I soon realized I had been missing out on greatness for so long.

Their Seneca Street location is known primarily for their soft serve, but offers hard ice cream in their rotation of treats. Although I can not attest to their hard ice cream, their soft serve is unmatched. Purity’s soft serve just simply can’t touch what Sweet Melissa’s has to offer. 

With Sweet Melissa’s in my back pocket, my friends and I decided to embark on a journey to acquire the delicious summer treat. We arrived at our destination a little after 8pm, concerned that we were pushing closing time and may have been too late. Fortunately for us, Sweet Melissa’s decided to stay open an hour later this past week due to the fabulous weather. 

We stepped out of our car and took in vibrant orange colors coming off the building as the sun began to set over the hills. As I approached the stand, I couldn’t but help notice the glee expressed by the people standing outside the stand. Despite a line of roughly a dozen people, everyone seemed to be enjoying their time outside, excited to get their hands on a cone of delicious swirls of ice cream. While in line, I looked at those who already received their fair share and noticed all of them smiling and scarfing down whatever they had yet to finish.  The line moved very quickly and it wasn’t before long that I had the opportunity to place my order. 

It is important to mention that they only accept cash, so be prepared before your order. When it was my turn in line, I handed them a $5 bill and asked for my go-to — a medium chocolate-vanilla twist with rainbow sprinkles. It seems childish in writing, but it is an order I have no shame in placing. 

Within moments after my order, I was handed my marvelous treat. With no hesitation, ignoring my manners to wait for my friends, I indulged on my frozen dessert. The mix of the sprinkles and the frozen sweetness left me in awe. Being my first ice cream cone of the season, I couldn’t have gotten off on a better foot. I felt the endorphins running through my veins. With each lick I got a different taste of summer, with my mind racing through the memories I have made here in years before. 

Ice cream is widely loved, but there is a clear difference between any old scoop of ice cream and a great one. In particular, there is really something special about soft serve that makes it so enjoyable, yet difficult to master. You can’t have it too hard, too soft, too icy, too watery, too thick, too runny – it has to be just right. Sweet Melissa’s is the Goldilocks of soft serve. They offer you the sweetness and creaminess you long for in your cone, without it obnoxiously dripping down the side of your hand and just making a mess everywhere. Their ice cream is pure happiness in a cone, and I have yet had any soft serve that can compare.

A lot of Cornell students struggle to find the upsides of being in Ithaca. Frankly, that is a conversation to have another day. One thing that is for sure, we are extremely privileged to have two phenomenal ice cream parlors only two miles away from the heart of campus. As we head towards the end of the semester, I encourage you all to take the time to enjoy a serving of Sweet Melissa’s on one of Ithaca’s warm spring days before you head back home. Try something new, enjoy the little things in life. 

I give my love to Purity, but back home I’ll always run to Sweet Melissa’s.

Quintin Cerione is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].