Jillian Murphy of Cortland eyed the selections of soft serve and hard ice cream outside of Footie’s Freez on Saturday, selecting one she hadn’t tried before — a peanut butter marshmallow sundae.
More than 20 customers came and went within 15 minutes, circling into the parking lot and making their way to picnic tables and chairs strewn across the lawn under the afternoon sun. It was a scene repeated late Saturday afternoon at a number of greater Cortland area ice cream stands, including Toad’s II in Freeville.
“It’s an easy way to get outside and enjoy the company of locals while also socially distancing,” Murphy said. “There’s a sense of normalcy.”
Murphy, who usually eats ice cream as a treat or on special occasions, has gotten ice cream twice this week.
“It’s definitely more often than usual,” Murphy said. “The weather’s been nice and it’s an easy excuse to just sit outside.”
Since the pandemic started in March 2020, ice cream sales have gone up 13.4%, reports Dairy Foods Magazine, a magazine dedicated to the dairy industry.
As ice cream shops started to re-open last spring, guidelines were put in place that are still being followed: required line spacing for customers; mask wearing and social distancing and a Plexiglass screen at the order window. But these changes haven’t deterred people from getting their treats.
“They offer outdoor dining here,” said Becky Jordan of Dryden while her granddaughter, Kendall Porter, 6, ate her mint chocolate chip ice cream cone at the picnic tables outside of Footie’s Freez. “This is the first time we’ve gotten ice cream this season.”
“My favorites are cotton candy and mint chocolate chip,” Porter said, as ice cream dribbled down her hand.
Jordan had promised Porter last weekend they’d go on Saturday.
“We both love ice cream,” Jordan said. “It’s good to do with social distancing and it’s something the kids enjoy.”
But the family usually spends a lot of time outside, even before the pandemic and spent last summer camping on Cayuga Lake, playing outside at home and using their fire pit with family and friends.
“Our regular activities didn’t change too much,” Jordan said.