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Vanderwende’s just opened its first Philadelphia location, bringing the family creamery’s signature farm-fresh ice cream to Old City.
Decked out in aqua with pink accents like an “I scream you scream” neon sign, the store at 243 Market St. feels kind of like the final evolution of a Pokémon. It’s the creation of Will Vanderwende, the youngest brother of three siblings, who managed to create a vibe that’s youthful without losing the history behind the name.
“Our first location was just on our dairy farm,” said Will, 23, explaining the first family scoop shop. “At the time, we didn’t really know what a brand was,” he added. “We didn’t have that until this location.”
The Vanderwende family has owned and operated the nearly 4000-acre farm in Bridgeville, Delaware, since 1954. Their foray into ice cream started much more recently, in 2012, with a storefront right outside of their house. It eventually expanded to four locations across the state, each owned by various members of the family.
Now, thanks to Will, they can add a Pennsylvania address to the list.
“I am a very independent person and knew that I wouldn’t do well going from living on my own at college to living with my parents,” Will said of his decision to venture outside his home state. “And Old City just felt right. I can’t explain it, but I always go with my gut.”
The Philly shop, which opened June 29, boasts an impressive 32-flavor menu. Any flavor can be made into shakes, floats, sundaes, or served as regular scoops. A house-made waffle cone will run you an extra $2, but it’s well worth it. Don’t miss the mocha almond fudge or orange pineapple — and Will made a strong case for his favorite, too.
“If you like peanut butter and don’t get the peanut butter fudge crunch, you’re doing it wrong,” Will said.
Because Vanderwende’s focuses on doing classic flavors well, it’s not competing with the trendy new shops that offer tricked out flavors. What really sets it apart is the ice cream itself. It’s all made in small batches on the farm, resulting in a perfectly creamy texture.
“We don’t make any more than four of the tubs at a time,” Will explained. “Having that dairy aspect of our family story really just sets it apart from others.”
His shop is just a couple blocks from Franklin Fountain, the ever-popular, also family-owned, throwback classic, but Will believes Vanderwende’s can thrive in its Old City location.
“I really believe in our brand,” Will said. “I believe in what we do, and I think there’s room for everyone.”
That brand — a mix of family and fun — means you’ll find all the same flavors here that you would at each of Vanderwende’s other locations, from fan favorites like Annie’s apple pie and orange pineapple to staples like strawberry and mint chocolate chip. The only thing that’s different between Will’s location and his siblings’ is the outside.
“We have our own take,” he said. “But the story stays the same.”