By BAILEY WRIGHT
In celebration of National Custard Day last week, Rita’s Italian Ice & Custard announced it will start serving hand-scooped frozen custard next summer.
The national chain, which currently offers soft-serve frozen custard and Italian ice, will be rebranded as “Rita’s Italian Ice & Creamery” beginning next year at select locations, including Southington and West Hartford.
The new hand-scooped frozen custard is creamier than typical hard-serve ice cream, Ashley Fulton, co-owner of the Southington and West Hartford stores, said.
“It’s super fresh because we make it right in our store, so it’s not like it’s sitting in a freezer and trucked over,” Fulton said. The custard has gotten positive reviews from the franchise’s employees who have tasted it, she added.
“People are just going crazy for it,” Fulton said.
Rita’s management is still working on all the products that will be available, but already have some new things they are looking into.
In addition to the hard-serve frozen custard, they will be “coupling (the custard) with freshly baked treats, like cookies, brownies and waffles, to make amazing custard sandwiches,” Rita’s said in a press release.
These treats will also be made on-site and with premium products, Fulton said.
Just like the current soft-serve frozen custard, the hand-scooped custards will rotate through about 35 flavors, offering from eight to 10 daily.
Because the flavors haven’t been announced yet, Fulton couldn’t say what any of the flavors will be, but said the store will announce the new flavors on its social media accounts as the 2018 season approaches.
“There will definitely be some fun, new, exciting flavors,” she said. “Once we roll it out, we will be doing lots of sampling, making sure people are tasting it. We are always happy to get feedback from our customers, to tweak and change.”
The new hand-scooped frozen custard will join a menu of Italian ice, cream ice, soft-serve frozen custard, sundaes, gelati, mistos, blendinis, milkshakes, other frozen drinks, frozen custard cakes and cookie sandwiches.
Customers at the store last week said they were excited about the new hard-serve custard.
“We’d love to try that,” said Missy Loschiavo from Waterbury, who visited the store with her friend Christopher Smith.
This year was the franchise’s first time celebrating National Custard Day on Aug. 8 and Fulton said around 500 people came by. The store promoted the holiday with 99 cent custards.
“We had a busy day, the weather was great… People really seemed to enjoy it,” Fulton said.
Before the new creamery is unveiled next year, customers can try out a new Hawaiian punch Italian ice flavor and take part in donating to Southington Community Services through purchasing any Rita’s product. At the end of the month, five percent of the store’s sales will be donated.
Linda Gosselin of Southington, a frequent customer, brought her granddaughter and mother to the store to taste the products she says are “always good.”
Her one suggestion? “I’d like them to stay open a little longer in the winter.”
To comment on this story or to contact Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.