The Best of the Rest
“The Fudge Man”
(On the Road, Kingston and everywhere)
It’s only in recent years that specialty ice cream shops have really proliferated in Jamaica. For most Jamaican kids, ice-cream arrives via mobile vendors who carry coolers on their motorbikes— freelance contractors who serve a niche not unlike the ubiquitous Mr. Softee trucks in the States, complete with their own trademark sounds to announce their arrival. Arguably, it’s these street-level ice cream soldiers, sometimes referred to as “The Fudge Man,” or “Kremi” (after the wholesale manufacturer most carry), who are responsible for much of Jamaica’s ice-cream innovation, crafting new hybrid flavors to suit local trends and tastes. Jamaican ingenuity at it’s finest—and best-tasting!
(Various locations in Kingston and other Jamaican cities)
Jamaica’s most popular ice-cream manufacturer Crazy Jim is sold in shops across Kingston and other cities, as well as in pints at Jamaican supermarkets. The brand unveiled a new range of flavors a few years back, including one made with one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Jamaica right now: apple vodka. TR8ness!!!
Jimmy’s Ice Cream Shoppe
(Sovereign Centre, 106 Hope Road, Kingston 6; 876-978-3842)
Conveniently located at the food court in Sovereign Cente, Kingston’s largest mall, this Barbican-area favorite is a hit with local teens and families, as well as Kingston expats who make it one of their first stops on trips back home.
York Castle Tropical Ice Cream
(827 Hungerford Dr., Rockville, Maryland;
The D.C. suburbs in Maryland are home to several ice-cream shops run by Jamaican expats. The consensus favorite seems to be York Castle Tropical Ice Cream in Rockville. We haven’t made it there yet, but thanks to Yelp reviews for Calver “Cal” Headley’s shop like this one—”Yes, I drive there from Virginia in the middle of winter for this ice cream, it’s that good!”—we’re already making plans for a detour during our next trip to Chocolate City. See also Tropical Ice Cream Queen in nearby Silver Spring, MD.
(914 N.C. Highway 42, Clayton, N.C.’; 919-332-6720)
Could Jamaican ice cream go mainstream in the USA? The existence of Caribbean Royale in Clayton, North Carolina, a small town near Raleigh-Durham, is enough to suggest that it could. Jamaican-born founder Hyacinth Reece-Headley started Caribbean Royale in Chicago in the ’90s but closed up shop when her career as a human resources professional brought her to North Carolina. After wading back into the business as a wholesaler selling to local Caribbean stores in North Carolina, she opened the Clayton store last year. “We only do tropical flavors, and there’s no artificial flavors,” Reeece-Headley says, when asked about her product. Currently, those flavors include banana; coconut; ginger; Grape Nut; guava; mango, pina colada, pineapple, Extra Stout, rum raisin, soursop and a fruit medley (with guava, pineapple, Mango, Banana).