No Samples Due to COVID-19, Plymouth’s Honey & Mackie’s Turns to Ice Cream Flights
Suzanne Varecka has spent this summer making dreams come true. Her Plymouth ice cream shop, Honey & Mackie’s, has introduced “a million new flavors this summer,” thanks to the creative minds of her employees.
“What I have been doing is going through and making everyone’s dream flavor,” Varecka said. “And every week, someone’s ‘dream’ comes true, so I’ve just been making all these random flavors.”
Those flavors include ice cream with names such as “Cookie Monster,” “Cherry Cola,” and “Bullseye.”
There’s just one problem. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ice cream shops aren’t allowed to provide the small, spoon-sized samples to customers who want to try one of these unique concoctions.
“We’re not allowed to do samples, in particular, because we’ve had the mask mandate,” said Varecka, the owner of Honey & Mackie’s in Plymouth. “And that’s because taking a sample involves, one, removing your mask, having a spoon close to your face and your mouth, and then either giving the spoon back to us or discarding the spoon in a public area that we no longer have control over; which means somebody else could pick up that spoon.”
In other words, it could be an easy way to spread COVID-19.
With no samples available, the Honey & Mackie’s staff has become adept at describing the taste of the different ice cream flavors to curious customers.
“Describing the flavors is incredibly important, particularly in the given environment,” Varecka said.
But even a perfectly-articulated description can’t replace the sensation of real ice cream hitting your taste buds.
Introducing ice cream flights
Earlier this month, Varecka came up with an idea to solve the sample situation. On Aug. 17, Honey & Mackie’s started selling “sample flights.” For $8, customers can get six single scoops of different ice cream flavors packed neatly into a plastic tray that resembles a cupcake holder.
“I started it this week with the idea that we would just try it for a week and see how it goes,” Varecka said. “Is there really a customer demand for it? Is it feasible? What’s the feedback? And we’ve been blown out of the water the past few days.”
The serving size is a little big for one person, so Varecka says it’s probably best to share the sample flight between two people, but it’s an easy way to let customers try their various flavors in one visit.
As word gets out about the sample flights, she’s asking customers to look at the flavor list online beforehand to help make the ordering process more efficient.
“Come to the dipping cabinet with flavors in mind,” Varecka said. “That will help us help everybody more quickly.”
As for how long the sample flights will be available, Varecka says it will likely be a permanent fixture on their menu for at least the next couple of months, as she doesn’t expect the CDC guidelines to change anytime soon.
“There really is a desire to experience ice cream this way,” Varecka said. “So I’m going to say yes, that it’s going to be [permanent]. But don’t hold me to it. Like, if we come back to real samples sometime, like some miraculous thing happens, we may just go back to regular samples. But this seems to be a really fun way to meet people where they’re at right now.”