In an ice cream city, we really do have a lot of options. From Graeters, Aglamesis, and UDF Homemade, to the plethora of neighborhood creamy whips.
But one soft serve flavor has a cult-like following. Our area amusement park, King’s Island, has been rocking the blue since 1982 – blue ice cream that is. Thirty-four years later it’s still the most popular food item in the park, says Don Helbig, the park’s PR Guru. And, a selfie with the blue ice cream (and/or a blue stained tongue) is one of the most popularly posted images within the park. Even adults, like Red’s infielder Kristopher Negron, have gotten into that social media phenom.
First there was Smurf Blue Ice Cream, inspired by the Smurf’s Enchanted Voyage Ride, in what was then Hanna Barbara Land. The ice cream was served at a stand right as you exited this ride, which was air conditioned – a great break from a hot summer day at the park. It was a popular ride with an estimated 22 million riders in the 10 years it ran until 1992.
I always thought this was a bit weird. Even though I was a big fan of the Smurf cartoons, I always thought, “If you bite into a Smurf, what flavor would they really taste like?” Would they taste of blueberry, as their namesake ice cream did? Wasn’t it all just a bit ‘colorist’?
Then in 1992, when the Smurf Voyage transitioned into the Phantom Theater, park management took away the Smurf Blue Ice Cream and replaced it with red cherry ice cream. That did NOT go over well. It was like Coca-Cola’s New Coke fiasco.
Loyal customers revolted in outrage and forced Kings Island Food Services to ‘bring back the blue’. Thanks to those Revolutionists, it can still be enjoyed in a cone or a bowl; pure blue, or swirled with vanilla; and with multicolored sprinkles or without.
It’s now just called Blueberry ice cream (now made by Prairie Farms; formerly made by Trauth Dairy until a few years ago) and served at its original location in the area known as Planet Snoopy. The formerly Smurftastic ride is now called “Boo Blasters on Boo Hill.” Call it nostalgia or tradition, but to us children of the 70s and 80s, it will always be Smurf Blue Ice Cream. And it’s now hit multigenerational status. Grandparents are sharing what they slurped as kids at the park with their own grandkids. Alas, the Brady Bunch did not have the pleasure of trying Smurf Blue Ice Cream, when they filmed their 1973 episode at the park.
In the park, blue ice cream can also be found at Ice Scream Zone in Action Zone and at Coney Potato Works in Coney Mall. You can’t take it with you, or at least out of the park. But in 2016, Kings Island’s Sweet Shop, made a blue ice cream popcorn flavor that can be smuggled out.
Two other local creamy whips make an authentic Smurf Blue soft serve ice cream. Whipty-Do in Maineville, about four miles from King’s Island, and Putz’ Creamy Whip, off of I-74, buy the blueberry flavor from the original flavor supplier to King’s Island and mix it with their respective vanilla soft serves. Originally Putz offered it as a special, but it was so popular, they made it a regular offering. Whipty-Do offered it starting in 2010, when Trauth offered excess inventory of the special King’s Island Blue Flavor to local mom and pop ice cream shops. But when Trauth stopped making it, their customers revolted and the owner tracked down the flavor supplier to make his own.
Since 2014, another funky colored ice cream flavor has hit the park. It’s blue AND purple striped and called Banshee Twist Ice Cream, inspired by the Banshee roller coaster. But unfortunately the purple is just food colored vanilla, not another funky flavor, so it’s really just the Smurf Blue in disguise. Smart move, King’s Island. Now maybe you could reduce the price of a cone from the outrageous $5!!