Welcome, one and all, to the ice-cream heavyweight championship here in Chicago.
We’re headed into the final hot days of summer, friends, and we’ve all got cold, sweet treats on our minds. But which shop really beats the heat? Let’s find out once and for all who is king of the cooler, the sultan of the scoop, the cherry on top and the crème de la crème.
In this corner, weighing in at over thirty flavors—depending on the season—and hailing from Columbus, Ohio, the modern marvel: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams!
And in that corner, the hometown classic with more than ninety years of experience dishing out the cold hits, the veteran sundae slayer: Margie’s Candies!
Ding! Let the match begin!
Jeni’s is a relative newcomer on the scene, at least compared to how long Margie’s has been in the business, but she’s been coming on strong. She’s got twenty-three storefronts in eight different cities. Now that’s a presence!
Margie’s has seen some expansion as well in her time. There’s the original shop on north Western Avenue and a second on west Montrose Avenue.
Now Margie’s is making her first move, showing off that classic style that hasn’t changed in decades. You walk in the door of the original and are instantly transported back to where it all began. It’s that vintage ice cream parlor feel, with stained glass motifs, wood paneling on the walls and tabletop jukeboxes. They don’t work, but hey! It’s got the look. You sit down and share a sundae with a sweetie, just as we all did in simpler times.
Here’s where you really see the difference in styles between the old-timer and the upstart. Jeni’s is quite efficient at making desserts, and with a well-directed line and multiple scoopers helping move things along, Jeni’s definitely has the one-up on Margie’s when it comes to speed.
But what this match comes down to, ladies and gentlemen, is the ice cream. These competitors go toe-to-toe when it comes to homemade. It’s a point of pride for both these shops and something the fans really look for.
Jeni’s comes in hot and fast with a rush of imagination-churning flavors. She’s just got such a range, and the fans delight in the surprises she can dish out.
Margie’s has a solid repertoire of flavors, but where she really excels is in those killer combinations—the sundaes and splits. With over twenty in her arsenal, and not even counting all the make-your-own possibilities, Margie’s delivers that one-two-three scoop punch.
And the fight is on! Jeni’s comes in with an Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, packed with that rich coffee flavor. Margie’s counters with a Chocolate Honey Comb Chip Sundae, with that cookie and honey-comb combo landing squarely. Jeni’s stumbles, then recovers with a Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam. But here comes Margie’s with the Royal George! Those twenty-five scoops of ice cream pack a serious wallop!
It’s hit after delicious creamy hit, folks, and…Holy cow, I don’t believe it! It’s a double KO! Wow, what a show. But let’s face it, ladies and gents, when it comes to ice cream, no matter if you prefer cup or cone, you’re always a winner with a scoop in hand. (Lauren Knight)
Margie’s Candies, 1960 North Western, (773)384-1035; Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (multiple locations), 1505 North Milwaukee, (872)802-4668