Dark chocolate pomegranate, white chocolate pumpkin swirl, chocolate maple bacon pecan – the choices seem almost endless. Where, in Gainesville, can you find ice cream flavors like this?
Tucked in the corner of the shopping center on West University Ave. and Southwest 34th Street is Sweet Dreams of Gainesville, the first local ice cream shop in Gainesville to not bear a franchise name.
From 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Sweet Dreams held its Chocolate Night, an event that happens only twice a year. This special day is when Sweet Dreams clears out the ice cream cases of all the regular flavors and showcases 36 different kinds of chocolate ice cream.
“We start making the ice cream weeks in advance,” Michael Manfredi, owner and founder of Sweet Dreams, said. “Thirty-six flavors, 72 boxes of ice cream, almost 200 gallons.”
The event started two years ago and has become more successful every time they do it, Manfredi said. On Chocolate Night, the shop sells anywhere from 800 to 1,100 bowls of ice cream and those are sometimes shared between multiple people.
For the event, they use mini scoops that are the size of golf balls so you can get an assortment of flavors. You can get anywhere from two to 30 mini scoops, ranging from the prices of $3.50 to $25.
“We don’t miss this if we can help it. You can’t go wrong,” Anthony Newsholme, a self-claimed chocoholic, said. “We’re probably going to go to a movie and come back for more.”
Manfredi said that he had a hard time keeping up with all the different chocolate flavors, like rocky road and heavenly hash, because all of the ice cream and waffle cones are homemade in the shop. He decided to only have a regular house chocolate and nothing else.
The idea came to Manfredi when he wanted to do something special for Valentine’s Day. He featured a raspberry chocolate flavor and a spicy Mayan chocolate that is made with chilies and cinnamon. Before the event could even take place, the spicy Mayan chocolate sold out and another batch had to be made.
Manfredi started adding more and more chocolate flavors until a night completely dedicated to chocolate was created.
Chocolate Night rarely features the same chocolate ice creams. Manfredi and his wife, Lisa, always introduce new flavors and tweak the recipes of old ones. They only keep customer favorites, like the spicy Mayan chocolate, continuously on the Chocolate Night menu.
“They let you taste everything first, which is nice. They’re actually very efficient even though there are so many people,” Dixie Lee, a patron of Chocolate Night, said.
If you missed this fall’s Chocolate Night, you still have spring to look forward to where a whole new set of chocolate flavors will be available.