With heightened stress from impending finals, we all need a break. My suggestion — step away from composition notebooks, caffeine and Clemons Library for a few hours, and swing by Kilwins. Especially if you’re a sugar-crazed student like me, this ice cream and chocolate shop is guaranteed to sweeten your finals season.
In 1947, Don and Katy Kilwin founded Kilwins in Petoskey, Mich. The company eventually grew to include a Charlottesville location in the Downtown Mall, which offers a warm, welcoming environment, possibly due to the contributions of owners Kip Pastermack and Jessica Postlethweight Pastermack, a local Charlottesville family. On their Facebook page, the Pastermacks illustrate their family-oriented business culture, which helps cultivate Kilwins’ homey atmosphere in Charlottesville.
Although the business started as a bakery, customers today walk into Kilwins looking to enjoy their smooth, delectable ice cream. This ice cream, made using the company’s traditional recipe, is shipped to franchise locations from Petoskey, Mich.
With my first step into the charming interior, I quite literally became a kid in a candy store, surrounded by candied apples, caramel popcorn, truffles, chocolate-dipped Rice Krispies treats and pretzels, fudge and — of course — ice cream. After admiring the endless options and receiving guidance from the friendly staff, I chose to order a scoop of Kilwins Tracks.
Kilwins Tracks, according to an employee, is a popular flavor among customers, and after just a single bite, I could tell why. The ice cream was creamy, rich and, simply put, delicious, combining a vanilla base with miniature peanut butter truffles and gobs of chocolatey fudge. Essentially, it molded Kilwin’s reputable ice cream and candy into one perfect product. Strolling down the Downtown Mall while enjoying my scoop of Kilwins Tracks was the ideal way to destress and enjoy the sunny Friday afternoon.
Although the ice cream was certainly filling on its own, the display of chocolates next to the cash register caught my eye. I simply could not leave without ordering a non-ice cream product. Narrowing down my options was difficult, but I eventually landed on the Mackinac Island fudge, specifically the sea salt caramel and chocolate peanut butter flavors, respectively. Both were incredibly rich, thick and smooth, but the sea salt caramel fudge was by far my favorite. The gooey caramel perfectly contrasted the luscious chocolate, offering the classic combination of salty and sweet.
The chocolate peanut butter fudge, in my opinion, was not as impressive. As a massive fan of any and all nut butters, I was disappointed by the weak chocolate-to-peanut butter ratio. Kilwins, however, offers a peanut butter fudge, which doesn’t include any chocolate. On my next trip, I intend to order this flavor to satisfy my peanut butter craving.
One drawback to this shop is the high prices, especially compared to Chaps, another popular ice cream location on the Downtown Mall. For instance, two scoops of ice cream cost around $8 from Kilwins but only $5.30 from Chaps. However, the higher prices are a trade-off for the shorter wait-times. Unlike Chaps, Kilwins offers convenience and speed, making them ideal for a quick outing during a chaotic finals season.
Overall, I highly recommend grabbing a group of friends for a Kilwins run before the semester ends. Open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, this shop has a great atmosphere and even better desserts. Even if you’re not in the mood for ice cream, there are plenty of other options to satisfy your sweet tooth.