ITHACA, N.Y. –– Sweet Melissa’s, the longtime downtown soft-serve vendor, has turned its other ice cream specialty –– hard scoops –– into a full-blown professionally packaged product.

Four flavors in packaged pints with a new cassette tape logo (the design of which combines owner Melissa Kenny’s love of ice cream and music), will be available for purchase at Sweet Melissa’s storefront at 200 W Seneca St, at Shortstop Deli or through Regional Access food distribution. Other local retailers also may start selling the product by purchasing through Regional Access.

Flavors include Sweet Cream, Chocolate, Blondie Cookies and Cream and Lemon Ricotta.

New Sweet Melissa’s pints (Photo via Sweet Melissa’s/Facebook)

The business announced this newest venture and unveiled the new packaging on social media with Kenny writing, “this is the culmination of the past decade+ of all of my hard work and I couldn’t be more excited to share my ice cream in a bigger and better way.”

Of the new package artwork, Kenny said, “We (Kenny and her husband Matt) are 80s/90s kids. So I was obsessed with making mixtapes as a kid and it was such a big part of my youth.” She also added that the store’s name is partly inspired by the Allman Brothers song “Melissa,” fueling the musical connection. Merchandise with the new logo and other fun ice cream-themed designs is available both in-store at the Seneca St. window and online at the Sweet Melissa’s website

Owners Melissa and Matt Kenny

Sweet Melissa’s, a staple of Ithaca summers, first opened its window on the end of the Shortstop Deli building in 2009, after which Kenny quickly delved into hard ice cream making with dairy-free ice flavors before pivoting to dairy flavors in 2011. Since then, Kenny said she expanded production of the dairy hard ice cream by opening up a self-run “milk production processing plant” in Trumansburg in 2016, and then a storefront in Press Bay Alley which featured a rotating menu of hard ice cream flavors. Unfortunately, both endeavors were not sustainable.

Kenny said that COVID-19 was a driving force behind the Press Bay location not working out. “We lost the Press Bay shop because of it,” she said.

Thus, the newest iteration of Sweet Melissa’s hard ice cream is being produced with an unnamed co-packing partner more equipped to manufacture the product at a larger scale.

“I never in a million years thought I’d get here when I started, I genuinely thought I’d make it all forever, but after several years of making far far far under a living wage with our hard ice cream and I was cracking and separating hundreds of eggs, scooping out pints by hand, I am more than thrilled to delegate those tasks and have the opportunity to work from home and spend summers with my kids,” Kenny wrote on social media. “I can honestly say I have no idea what the future will hold now, and I’m so excited to see where we go!”

Kenny said she hopes to try out some unique flavors in small batches this summer, “you know, when there isn’t lines for days,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

Sweet Melissa’s is open every day from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com