Billings is in tune with the popular 1927 song, “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream” at the new Big Dipper Ice Cream store. Since it’s opening in April across from the Northern Hotel, lines have wrapped out the door, and onto the sidewalk as patrons scream delicious joy for new flavors in ice cream.
The delectably rich treat is “made with natural and whole ingredients” according to co-owner and general manager, Lia Munson, and basically, “cream, butterfat ice cream.” In fact, the dairy comes from a few blocks away, Meadow Gold. “We are willing to take risks with our flavors.” Aside from Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry, the flavor selections are not ordinary. Cardamom and Green Tea along with Black Licorice and Espresso Heath are some of the choices. “Huckleberry is our best seller. I like White Mint Oreo and Coconut from the regular menu.” Munson says. The Cardamon ice cream contains minute specks of spice, reminding customers of chai tea says Munson, with the White Chocolate Oreo Mint doubling in richness with chocolate incorporated into the cream finished with swirls of dark cookie crumb.
Lisa Harmon, Executive Director of Downtown Billings Association excitedly says, “We are so happy to have Big Dipper in Downtown Billings! They use locally sourced ingredients, are community-minded, and award winning. They have already had a huge influence on activity in Billings with friends and family coming from far and wide to experience their shop and their great ice cream.”
Big Dipper originally started by Charlie Beaton, the store’s original owner has locations in Missoula and a franchise in Helena. These days, the company is co-owned by Bryan Hickey and his wife Sarah who grew up in Billings. The mascot, Coneboy – a young boy who carries an ice cream four times his size – is emblazoned on the round marquee outside. Inside, a light blue neon sign, “Oh Boy” hanging on the wall greets the customer when ordering at the counter. Dan Johnson, who works days at Big Dipper says, “ Everyone is really friendly. There are at least ten different regulars that come in every single day.”
Daily there are three specials written on a small board on the counter. “There is no rhyme or reason to our specials,” Munson says, “It depends on the ingredients we have on hand or what we can get easily.” In the summertime, for instance, Strawberry Jalapeño ice cream may be one of the special offerings.
Big Dipper Ice Cream has elevated the concept of “local” to another level. Caramel Cookie Waffle Swirl, made from the bakery’s scratch cookie pieces, and the Espresso Quake Shake using Rock Creek Coffee Roasters brew demonstrates Big Dippers’ ability to think out of the scoop. The brownies, for the sundae options, come from Harper and Madison. Angry Hank’s Irish Red beer and the Scottish Ale from the Montana Brewing Company make for unique ice cream. Überbrew and Canyon Creek Brewing will provide beer for future specials. “We find it fun forming friendships and relationships,” Munson explains.
As with the ice cream, the space is pure. The ice cream stands out in the high ceiling room with white tiles and white boards. Blue and white mosaic tiles speckle the floor while a tall butter-colored mantel unit frames the back wall behind the long curved counter. Outside a bank of windows is the distraction, and perhaps, the entertainment provided by the bustling activity on 1st Avenue.
People in Billings will continue to scream about Big Dipper Ice Cream for fulfilling a delicious craving that has been missing from downtown for some time.
100 N. Broadway
Billings, Montana 59101
Open Daily 11:00am – 10:00pm