Two local ice cream favorites, both Big Dipper and Sweet Peaks seem to have their own avid followers. Last month, the Missoulian released it’s annual “Missoula’s choice” for best food places in town. Big Dipper ranked #1 and Sweet Peaks ranked #2 for ice cream in town. But how close is it? Does Big Dipper truly have superior ice cream? Can Sweet Peaks come out on top next year?
The veteran of the two ice cream shops, Big Dipper started in 1995 and grew from the Missoula location to two additional locations in Billings and Helena as well as a travelling “Cone Boy” ice cream truck in Missoula. It has won many awards and been featured on national television for their spectacular ice cream.
Sweet Peaks, founded in 2010, started in Whitefish Montana and made its way to other locations in Western Montana including Missoula. Known for their artisan flavors sourced from local ingredients, Sweet Peaks is growing in popularity and becoming one of Missoula’s most popular ice cream shops.
While both shops sell spectacular ice cream, to examine their strengths and weaknesses you can examine a few characteristics of ice cream shops. First, flavors can be compared and contrasted. Big Dipper offers year-round flavors like; Vanilla, Chocolate, Huckleberry, Yellow Cake, Espresso while Sweet Peaks offers more specialty flavors; Madagascar Vanilla, Huckleberry, Chocolate Love, Salty Caramel. In addition to the classic flavors offered year round, both Big Dipper and Sweet Peaks offer creative seasonal flavors. For example, at Big Dipper you can find pumpkin during the fall and Sweet Peaks offers a winter holiday flavor that tastes like a Christmas tree.
Cupcake and Yellow Cake are flavors offered at Sweet Peaks and Big Dipper, respectively, and both offer different tastes. Cupcake at Sweet Peaks is very sugary and has rainbow sprinkles. Yellow Cake tastes just like cake batter, but doesn’t have any sprinkles.
In terms of waffle cones, while both Big Dipper and Sweet Peaks have hand-made cones, Sweet Peaks has the superior cones. Cinnamon and sugar are mixed in the waffle cone batter at Sweet Peaks, which when combined with any of their flavors makes for a damn good cone.
And really, in the battle over which local ice cream shop has the superior ice cream, you can’t go wrong with either choice. Either way, you’ll end up eating ice cream and that to me is a pretty sweet day.