As its slogan says, soft-serve staple King Kone in Somers has been “Ruining Shirts Since 1953.” With National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day coming up on August 19, we chatted up co-owner Deb Hopkins to find about the stand’s long history and the secrets to its sugary success.
photo by Ken Gabrielsen
What is the history behind King Kone?
King Kone has been in business since 1953. My husband, Brian, and I purchased it in 2001, and I believe we are the third or fourth owners. We still serve the same soft serve and large portions that made King Kone famous in the 1950’s, but we also have more than 40 scooping flavors that rotate daily. When we took it over, it was mainly just an ice cream stand, but we have expanded to a full menu, including everything from burgers and hot dogs to fried seafood and lobster rolls.
What’s something on the menu not many people know about?
People are always surprised by the diversity of our menu options, but seem most pleasantly surprised by our lobster rolls.
And what’s your most popular flavor of ice cream?
Vanilla still remains the number one flavor for us — and for the rest of the country.
How about the most people you’ve served in a day?
Our hearts were broken when we lost one of our employees, Stephanie Crispinelli, in 2010 in the tragic earthquake in Haiti. That summer we held a fundraiser for her foundation. The entire community came out in support, and we had more than 5,000 customers. It was overwhelming to feel the love from everyone who showed up. It’s times like that when I’m so glad that I live in a small town.
Why do you think King Kone has become a summer staple for so many people?
We’ve kept the original design of the building. It’s constructed from a kit from the 1950’s, and you know it’s an old-fashioned ice cream stand as soon as you see it. It’s a disappearing part of Americana that makes people feel nostalgic. It gives you the feeling that you live in a small town where everyone knows each other. We also don’t cut corners on the quality of the ice cream and food that we serve. Consistency is very important to us, and our staff does their best to make sure that our customers have a great experience every time they stop by.
If you could describe King Kone ice cream in 3 words, what would they be?
Nostalgic, quality, consistency.
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