EDMONDS — Do you remember strolling past the ice cream shop when you were a kid?
It’s a different experience entirely than doing so as an adult — though I will still proclaim loudly to anyone within earshot when I can smell waffle cones on the breeze. Maybe it’s something about being just barely tall enough to peer into the front window, putting you at eye level with the multicolored swirls of the flavors in the case.
Again, not a lot has changed for me here personally; I’m still pretty short.
Maybe it’s just that the sight of a bowl piled high with a twist of vanilla and a generous drizzle of hot fudge triggers some primal, sugar-seeking, evolutionary urge in our lizard brains.
Whatever it is, the newest outpost of Molly Moon’s Ice Cream is doing it right.
The local chain has nine other temples to ice cream goodness around the greater Seattle area, and it just opened its first Snohomish County location on Main Street in Edmonds. Whether you’re seeking slightly grown-up versions of nostalgic favorites or to fully lean into healing your inner child with a no-holds-barred sundae, the new shop wants to become a sweet part of your neighborhood walk.
From day one, that’s been part of the plan for Molly Moon Neitzel, the titular founder of Molly Moon’s. Well, not necessarily in Edmonds, specifically, but for every location she’s opened since 2008 as the business grew out from its original Wallingford location.
Neitzel said she started her first shop with dreams of filling two important gaps she’d noticed: The first was one in her current career, where she didn’t feel personally fulfilled and imagined one day being able to match her work up with her values. The second, and even more pressing, issue was that there was a devastating lack of proper homemade ice cream shops around town.
“I wanted to make this space that could really become part of the neighborhood it was in, to feel like a part of the community and support the community around it,” Neitzel said.
Part of living up to her values, along with paying workers fairly and ethically sourcing all her ingredients, was giving back to the local community that kept the lights on. All her stores donate 1% of sales or 10% of profits, whichever is greater, to a local charity. The new Edmonds shop will partner in perpetuity with the Edmonds Food Bank, Neitzel said.
And in this food writer’s opinion, the new Edmonds shop is doing an invaluable service by spreading delicious smells around the area, free of charge.
As soon as I parked my car, a block or so from Molly Moon’s, and stepped out into the breezy, overcast afternoon, the rich, toasty aroma of waffle cones hit me like the sweetest brick wall imaginable.
I followed my nose to the shop’s glass-paneled storefront and watched in wonderment as an employee peeled thin sheets of waffle off an iron and rolled them into perfect cones, working quickly to shape the treats before they cooled fully.
Neitzel said she’d been drawn to an Edmonds location by what she sees as a burgeoning food scene, saying the city “was ready” for more new concepts like hers.
Plus, the shop’s location in the planned Main Street Commons development spoke to her community values, she said, making it the perfect place to set up a new location. It’s still very much under construction, so you’ll have to step around some caution tape when you visit Molly Moon’s, but the project will feature local breweries, an outpost of Ethan Stowell’s Victory Tavern, a pizzeria and more when it opens, expected to be later this year.
“The whole vision for the Commons is based around the idea of creating a truly multi-generational space that all of Edmonds can enjoy, and that’s what really sold me,” Neitzel said.
Once I stepped inside, my reverie continued. I watched through a round portal into the kitchen as another employee — read: dairy wizard — spun massive batches of liquid ice cream into frozen tubs, ready to be scooped up from the case out front or bought by the pint.
Every ingredient that goes into Molly Moon’s ice cream, from the oatmeal cookie dough to the salted caramel sauce, is made in-house at each store daily, Neitzel said. And whenever possible, ingredients come from local producers, like the Skagit Valley berries swirled into their strawberry recipe.
The dairy wizards back there sure have their hands full, with 15 flavors in the case on any given day. Most of those are available year-round, including classics like cookies-n-cream or chocolate and regional icons like honey lavender or Yeti — a distinctly PNW blend of sweet cream ice cream, caramel and crunchy granola.
Four seasonal star flavors rotate through regularly, and on this summer afternoon, the summery s’mores and vegan brownie batter options caught my eye immediately.
When I spoke to Neitzel, she’d recommended combining honey lavender with the housemade blueberry jam topping for a very summer-in-Western-Washington vibe, and I had every intention of doing just that.
Until Molly’s Favorite Sundae ($9) caught my eye, that is. It’s beautiful in its simplicity: A scoop each of salted caramel and chocolate ice cream, drenched in hot fudge and sprinkled with candied chopped hazelnuts, with a pile of fresh whipped cream and a picture-perfect cherry on top. How could I say no?
The worker behind the counter warned me that Molly Moon’s salted caramel leans heavily to the salty side. “Not everyone knows what they’re getting into,” she said, and offered me a spoonful to sample first.
The caramel flavor is deep and toasty, almost savory, and definitely salty. It’s assuredly a rather adult version of the classic confection, but the smoky-sweet notes of burnt sugar add a lovely edge to the otherwise devastatingly rich sundae.
Herald photographer Annie Barker ordered a custom sundae ($9) with the Scout Mint flavor — made with hundreds of boxes of authentic Girl Scout cookies — as her base, plus a seasonal topping of strawberry-coated marshmallows and, naturally, a healthy dose of hot fudge.
Unconventional? Sure. But it’s hard to go wrong with any combo at this shop — just try not to let the generous scoops melt onto your hands before you get to enjoy it fully.