CHEAP EATS: Jim Mack's Ice Cream
Driving past open land on Lincoln Highway at 9 p.m., someone might find a burst of activity before the 6000 block. A bounce house, ice cream, mini golf, a pot-belly pig named Bacon and a Pennsylvania Black Bear might be the reason for any crowds.
Jim Mack's Ice Cream serves sweet treats and sandwiches, but also has a small zoo, 24-hole miniature golf course, basketball court and a bounce house.
It's a family ice cream shop that's also a family-fun attraction since 1935. Mack's grandparents started an ice cream shop in Spry (the store was since torn down). In 1958, Mack's father Jim opened the Hellam Township business. In 1984, Mack bought it and added golf.
"I've been dipping ice cream at my grandmother's since I was 13 years old," Mack said.
It's a business that Mack loves - so much so, he vows to never sell it (especially not outside the family).
"I'm going to leave when they take me out in a stretcher," Mack said.
Mack said the shop's most popular flavors, aside from vanilla and chocolate, are orange pineapple and coffee.
Their signature item is the thick chocolate malt. It's Mack's favorite menu item.
"It's made the old way" with an old-fashioned mixer.
The malt starts out with vanilla ice cream. Then, servers add malted milk - essentially wheat flour and malted barley - chocolate syrup and milk. Jim Mack's serves it thin enough to easily suck through a straw, but customers can eat it with a spoon.
I'm not a fan of malted milk balls because of the chalky consistency. But I liked the smooth vanilla-chocolate mix of the malt shake. It's a pretty rich though, so I probably should have gotten a small.
Aside from ice cream, Jim Mack's has a short-order menu with prices as low as $1.69 for a hamburger.
One of the most popular sandwich options is the pork barbecue. It's a York County barbecue sandwich, which means it's not served in sauce. It came to me with a generous portion of pulled pork and the option of pickle relish sandwiched between a hamburger bun. Barbecue sauce packets come on the side for those of us who prefer a sweet and tangy taste.
While Jim Mack's ice cream recipes come partially from a mix, it's made and frozen in house. And, workers whip in ingredients like peanut butter to make for rich flavors.
I've been to Jim Mack's twice for ice cream and my favorite flavor so far is the Peanut Butter Ripple - it has a homespun-vanilla taste with globs of peanut butter that can't be ignored.
I was impressed by Jim Mack's ice cream but more so the attractions. I'm a fan of any eatery that stays open past 10 p.m. and offers family-friendly activities including mini golf and basketball (plus a chance to see live animals).
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants, aiming to please our palates and our wallets. Reach Ashley May at 717-771-2053; firstname.lastname@example.org; @AshleyMayTweets.
If you go
LOCATION: Jim Mack's Ice Cream,
5745 Lincoln Highway, Hellam Township
ASHLEY'S PICK: Pork barbecue, $3.39, and large thick chocolate malt, $3.99
HOURS: 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday;
9:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday (from Memorial Day to Labor Day only)
PRICE RANGE: $1.39 to $8.59
ACCEPTS: Cash or check (ATM on site)
KID'S MENU: Yes
DETAILS: Visit jimmacksicecream.com or call 717-252-2013.
Check out FlipSide's homemade ice cream tour.