When I first saw Kilwin's on Lincoln Road, it sounded familiar. Then my wife reminded me that we'd eaten ice cream at a Kilwin's on Las Olas many years ago. So I figured they'd branched out to a second location. In fact, Kilwin's Chocolates-Fudge-Ice Cream, as many of you probably know, has quite a number of venues across America - or at least through 15 states.
It's been around since 1947, originally a shop in Northern Michigan founded by Don and Katy Kilwin. It changed hands to Don and Robin McCarty in 1995, and by 2004 it was up to 50 locales. Best known for chocolates, fudge, and ice cream, Kilwin's also makes barks, brittles, candies, clusters, taffy, truffles, and chocolate-covered pretzels, Oreos, and Rice Krispies. Among other things.
It looks like an old-fashioned ice cream shoppe, which is no doubt part of its appeal - a constant stream of people were shuffling in and out of the place while we were there. It's a friendly place, too. "Head chef" Andy was busy dipping green apples into caramel behind the front window of the shop. Tuesday is 2-for-1 candy apple day. "I made 144 of these today," Andy said nonchalantly, as though that were a typical thing to do on a Tuesday. The work is not for naught. "We'll sell all them out before the end of the night" he assures me. Andy, originally from Brazil, is in charge of production for the fudge, caramel - just about everything made in-house, which is just about everything but the ice cream and some of the chocolates. That gets shipped in from Michigan. Even the waffle cones are made in house, behind the opposite window from where Andy was glazing the apples. Today, incidentally, is Waffle Cone Wednesday, meaning 2-for-1 on waffle ice cream cones.
The ice cream and chocolates are also good, which is the other reason for Kilwin's popularity. Tiffany, the efficient Miami native behind the counter, gave us little spoonfuls of everything from pumpkin ice cream (not something I'd want a whole cone of) to great renditions of chocolate-peanut butter, cappucino chocolate chip, banana fudge pie, butter pecan...I asked Tiffany, who has been working here since August 15, if she's gained any weight since then. "Yeah, I think I have," she replied cheerfully. 'It's so good." Why is it better than other ice creams? "It has butterfat crystals in it, so it's richer tasting." She explained how it has to be stored at minus 27 degrees because of those crystals, but I'll leave the tech stuff to ice cream analysts. My analysis is that it tastes good. And that there can never be too many ice cream joints.
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Kilwin's Chocolates-Fudge-Ice Cream
612 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach