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Why does Cedar Crest ice cream taste so good?

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Like Point beer, the pride of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Cedar Crest dairy mostly distributes its ice cream within a day's drive of its factory in Manitowoc. The ice cream that does make it beyond Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan's Upper Peninsula is trucked in monthly. After sampling several of the Mangrove Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor's sixteen Cedar Crest flavors, I found no evidence of freezer burn, only happy taste buds. For a more scientific survey, my wife and I schlepped four fellow ice cream experts (three nieces and one nephew) to the Mangrove to compare notes.

Seven-year-old Megan expressed satisfaction with Cedar Crest's chocolate-chip cookie dough because "it has more cookie dough in it" -- a fact validated on Cedar Crest's Web site, where the company notes that "it's our policy to be a little more generous with our ribbons and add-ins like cookies, nuts, fruit and chocolate chips. This means there's more flavor in every bite."

In search of something "pink and purple," five-year-old Patsy found a dish of rainbow sherbet with sprinkles. Better than Ted Drewes, she proclaimed.

Ten-year-old Kenneth, a budding root-beer connoisseur (and a bit of a curmudgeon), went for the enormous Super Bowl sundae: scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream in the middle of a halved banana, topped with whipped cream, crushed pineapple and Rams-appropriate blue and gold sprinkles. "I didn't like the whipped cream and pineapple on my ice cream," said he. "It was tasty, but I'd still say Ted Drewes wins."

Finally, fourteen-year-old Sydney recommends the Toast of the Town -- Champagne sherbet drizzled with strawberry topping and a mound of whipped cream. "It's a little bit tangy and the strawberries bring out the flavor," she noted, adding, "Everyone there was really nice and treated you very well."

Indeed. Be advised, though, that this stuff, made with gourmet ingredients, comes at a price: $3.25 for one scoop, $4.25 for two (also available by the handpacked pint for $3.49 or quart for $5.49).

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