no chill

Houston melts in new list of best and worst ice cream cities in the U.S.

Houston melts in new list of best + worst ice cream cities in the U.S.

Houston, Fat Cat Creamery, December 2017
Ice cream prospects in Houston are nonetheless looking up, thanks to cool spots like Fat Cat Creamery.  Photo by © Chuck Cook Photography

A national survey finds that Houston just isn't a great city to eat ice cream. Gird thyself: According to a list of of the best (and worst) ice cream cities in America, H-Town is the fifth-worst city in the U.S. 

The survey, compiled by real estate brokerage Home Bay, ranks 50 cities using factors such as the number of ice cream shops per capita, the price of a small cup or cone (using Ben & Jerry's as a benchmark), average annual temperature, and Google searches. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Yelp, and Google Trends.

The best
The best cities for ice cream have more shops (an average of 4.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people), a high interest in ice cream (Google searches), and better prices, with a small cup of Ben & Jerry's averaging $4.47 versus the $4.50 residents pay in the average city.

Here's a surprise: Oklahoma City is America's best ice cream city, thanks to a high number of ice cream shops per capita as well as affordability.

The top 10 cities in the U.S. for ice cream are as follows:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. New Orleans
  3. Las Vegas
  4. San Jose
  5. Providence
  6. Raleigh NC
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Austin
  9. Boston
  10. Philadelphia

Way to go, Austin! At least one Texas city makes the list. This is what they say about Austin's ice cream scene:

Austin excels when it comes to appreciation of different ice cream styles. The city ranks third in our ice cream variety metric thanks to frequent searches for ice cream types and flavors. The slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is appropriate with so many locals going bananas: The city ranks first in online search interest for banana ice cream. Visitors can find two different types of banana ice cream — banana cream pie and strawberry banana — at local chain Amy's Ice Creams. Additionally, Austin has the seventh-warmest average temperature in our study, making ice cream especially appreciated as a sweet treat for relief from the heat.

And as a subset of this ice cream survey, San Antonio wins the No. 1 slot for Best Shaved Ice.

The worst
The bottom 10 cities, including Houston, have fewer ice cream shops, higher costs, and less ice cream interest in the topic, which they judge by the number of Google searches for topics such as "ice cream near me" and "ice cream flavors."

The 10 worst ice cream cities are as follows:

  1. Memphis
  2. Riverside, California
  3. Washington D.C.
  4. Miami
  5. Houston
  6. Baltimore
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Sacramento
  9. Dallas
  10. Jacksonville

These cities have only 2.2 ice cream shops per 100,000 people. The average city has 3.4 shops per 100,000 people. And Dallas has only 1.9 ice cream shops per 100,000 people.

But wait! That number is due to rise, with the recent arrival of chains such as Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Van Leeuwen, joining stalwart locals such as Flower & Cream, Milk & Sugar, Sweet Bribery, Cloud 10 Creamery, and Fat Cat Creamery, which has locations in both Garden Oaks and the Heights.

Ice cream in these worst cities is also more expensive. A small cup of ice cream averages $4.80 in the bottom 10 cities, versus $4.50 for the average city in the study.

Ice cream in Missouri and Alabama is the cheapest: $3.99 for a small Ben & Jerry's cone. Washington DC is the most expensive, at $5.35 for a cone.