It’s a bright, warm, sunny day in Santa Barbara. You’re in the mood for something sweet, something creamy sliding down your throat. You know what that means, don’t you?

Ice cream!

McConnell’s has been a Santa Barbara staple since the 1950s, with the philosophy that the best kind of ice cream doesn’t have fillers, stabilizers, or preservatives. And McConnell’s simply refuses to serve anything but the best.

At any given time, the store offers 30-odd delectable flavors to choose from. But here’s the universal problem that we’ve all had at one point or another: what flavor should I get?

This isn't a problem to take lightly. Should I stick with the classics—Vanilla Bean, Mint Chip, Turkish Coffee? Or should I dive spoon-first into something adventurous, like Chamomile Tea & Oatmeal Cookies? Crap, I’ve been standing here for like, ten minutes already; can I ask for another sample or is that too rude?

Fret not, ye poor, unfortunate souls; your local friendly ice cream-taster is here! I took it upon myself to sample each and every flavor currently offered at the downtown McConnell’s. Yes, I became that girl, but it was all for the greater good: to bring you the scoop.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Ice

Did your last midterm leave a bitter taste in your mouth? If not, then go away. If so, then look no further! The candy-like sweetness in these flavors will definitely fill the emptiness in your stomach and in your heart.

Out of all the flavors, Salted Caramel Chip and Sea Salt Cream & Cookies were probably my favorites (what can I say? I’m a salty person). Other flavors in this category included Churros Con Leche, Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Double Peanut Butter Chip, and English Toffee Crunch.

Fruity Booty

If you’re looking for the warmth and contentedness of summer infused in bites of swooning heaven, then you won’t find it here. I recommend looking into blueberry muffins. But if you want the next best thing, then this category is for you! These are bursts of fruity deliciousness locked in flavors like Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Santa Barbara Strawberry, and Wild Berry Chip.

If you know me at all, you know I live for lemons. So it’s no surprise that Lemon & Marionberries is a personal favorite of mine. It’s tart, but not overly so. The lemon is tangy, the marionberries are refreshingly sweet—what’s not to love? But if sour is not your thing (in which case we’re not friends), then Blueberries & Cream or Mango Sorbet are solid choices. 

Confessions of a Chocoholic

Okay, I’m just going to say it really quick: I love chocolate, but I really don’t like chocolate ice cream. But before you judge me, let me explain. I don’t like overly sweet ice creams in general, and it definitely showed (“You’re not big on chocolate, are you?”). But, but—I persevered! For you.

Chocolate Almond Brittle and Dutchman’s Milk Chocolate were the most tolerable, and let’s face it, that’s probably the highest praise I can give. These two weren’t overpowering or too sweet. The flavors were deep, smooth, and creamy (just the way I like it). The other chocolates were just too thick and rich, which might float your (banana) boat, but it definitely sunk mine.

Puns Cannot Espresso How Tea-rrific These Are

If you insist on only the best flavors, if you stick up your pinky while sampling ice cream, or if you've made it here without groaning at a single pun, then you clearly appreciate the finer things in life. And you’ll be sure to appreciate aromatic flavors like Chamomile Tea & Oatmeal Cookies or Turkish Coffee. I personally love Earl Grey Tea & Shortbread Cookies, Peppermint Stick, and Brazilian Coffee.

Obligatory mention: Mint Chip. My mom loves this flavor so much that she offered to make the five-hour drive to Santa Barbara to “pick me up” (read: eat McConnell’s). And y’know, moms are always right, so try out this flavor and see if it's mint to be.

Deez Nutty and Creamy Flavors

Last but not least, we have the nuts and cream of McConnell's. This roster has pretty standard flavors like Chocolate Chip, Toasted Coconut Almond Chip, and Sweet Cream, but my hands-down favorite of the lot is Vanilla Bean. It's a classic and it pairs well with nearly everything (lookin' at you, Whiskey & Pecan. And yes, you can most definitely taste the alcohol).

But let's face it, anything at McConnell's is sure to melt your heart. So the next time you're trying to figure out who the winner is in your game of cones, try three flavors, or four, or five! Because if you're aiming for only one sample, wellmay the odds be ever in your flavor.