Ben Calkins, the owner of Dippity Do Dahs, spent the first twelve years of his life on his grandfather's dairy farm in Woodhull, New York. One of his fondest memories is of his grandfather cranking up the old ice cream maker. "My earliest memories are of the old hand crank one," says Ben. "We made ice cream in the winter all the time. Not as much in the summer, because there was so much to do on the farm. But we always had ice cream."
It was a memory Ben couldn't let lie. A certified art teacher by degree, Ben ended up as a pharmaceutical rep for twelve years. But as the industry started going through big changes, Ben started envisioning a different future. And he started thinking seriously about ice cream. On vacation, he and his wife, Anna, had always visited mom-and-pop ice cream stores. But, with a new objective in mind, they started sitting down for a cup of coffee if Mom or Pop had a minute to spare, asking about the business end of things. All along, Ben was disappointed that many towns—including Corning—had lost their homemade ice cream stores. A few years and many ice cream courses, seminars, and conventions followed. Then Anna met Jeff Kostick, owner of the Cayuga Lake Creamery, at a farmers market. He invited the Calkinses into his creamery, mentoring them in the world of real life ice cream making.
Ready to take the plunge, they started brainstorming a name. "We just tossed it out, a play on the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" from the Disney movie Song of the South. And my grandfather used to call them dips of ice cream. So it's a play on that, too." He adds, chuckling, "My generation calls them scoops. And I think the new generation just calls them small, medium, and large."
And so Dippity Do Dahs opened on Market Street on Memorial Day, 2013. Twenty-eight to thirty-three flavors are available, made from antibiotic- and hormone-free 14 percent butterfat cream from Upstate Farms, a western New York dairy co-op (and that includes all the specialty products made in house: ice cream cakes, ice cream pizzas, holiday ice cream pies, and ice cream cookie sandwiches made with specially-baked cookies by Poppleton Bakery). Salted caramel is the most popular ice cream flavor, with cake batter a close second. "For as many adults as like salted caramel there are as many kids who like cake batter. There aren't a lot of fifty-year-olds getting the cake batter, and there aren't a lot of twelve-year-olds getting the salted caramel," Ben grins.
Dippity Do Dahs baked 18,000 waffle cones last year. The scent of all that baking drifts sweetly down Market Street. You won't regret following your nose.