Sometimes, there’s nothing better than sitting back and relaxing with a cone or cup of fresh ice cream on a hot summer day. Especially in July, which happens to be National Ice Cream Month.
In Gainesville, there are a few options to choose from, but one that’s grown in popularity over the years, partly because of its creaminess, but mainly because of its flavor, is La Mejor de Michoacan, with its main location at 403 Atlanta Highway.
“In Mexico, it’s normal to have all these different flavors,” said Edgar Medrano, who helps out in the warehouse where the ice cream is made and distributed from. “We literally try to come up with the next new thing.”
Those unique flavors sometimes include fruits that aren’t common in the United States. Sometimes, they’re flavors that aren’t common in ice cream: mamey, tequila, tamarind, corn and soursop to name a few.
“We encourage new customers to try the ones they don’t hear about a lot, just to see if they’ll like it or not,” said Isaac Castro, another employee that helps out at the warehouse.
Mamey, is one of the newer flavors at La Mejor. It’s a fruit that looks similar to a sweet potato with a brown flesh and orange interior. Medrano said it tastes similar, too, but has a lot of other natural sweetness, making it perfect for an ice cream flavor.
Soursop is another fruit La Mejor uses, but this one has a prickly green exterior. The inside has a sweet, berry-like flavor, but has a slightly sour flavor, too.
“You have a base of all the other fruit flavors,” Medrano said. “So you make new ones and then see if you may need to add more sugar. Or if the color is real ugly, you may need to add something else to it. So we have a good idea, but you don’t really know until you make it.”
Every day, La Mejor is making at least 40 three-gallon tubs of its current ice cream offerings, and too many popsicles to count. When it comes to new flavors, though, it’s a team effort.
“It’s kind of like we’ll get around or even take it to the stores and give it to the employees, that way we can kind of get a feel for how people are going to react to it,” Medrano said. “Other than that, it’s just trial and error.”
There are some flavors that are always the same. They’re staples at La Mejor and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Flavors like cheesecake, which is Medrano’s favorite, because of the real pieces of crust inside. There are simple fruit flavors, too, like mango, Castro’s favorite because of the refreshing taste.
“All the fruit ones, we try to keep them pretty consistent,” Medrano said. “But there are times that we’ll try things that are just in season for a little bit to see if people will like it, because there are things that we wouldn’t expect people to like, but it turns out to be really good.”
There’s nothing too special about the process of making the ice cream served at La Mejor. It’s done just like it is at other places. It’s the recipes, mostly created by La Mejor owner, Miguel Medrano, that make it so popular.
The popsicle process is an entirely different story, though.
After the ice cream mixture is made, it’s poured into molds — 40 popsicles at a time — and then sent to the ice cream freezer, which is essentially a tub of very cold, moving water that freezes the popsicles in about 10 to 15 minutes. About halfway through the freezing process, a stick is put into the middle of the popsicle.
From there, the popsicles are wrapped and organized in chest freezers until they’re needed at the shops.
The popsicles come in most of the same flavors as the ice cream, so there are plenty of unique options to choose no matter what.
“A lot of people who are kind of new to these flavors, those are the people we take a little more time with,” Medrano said. “I want you to get something you like. I don’t want to just take your money and then it’s over. The point is for you to come back, so we build a relationship I guess you could say.”
La Mejor de Michoacan
Locations: 403 Atlanta Highway, Gainesville; 1800 Atlanta Highway, Suite H, Gainesville; 730 Pearl Nix Parkway, Gainesville; 5824 Singleton Road, Suite 104, Norcross
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday