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below zero

Eat Like a Local: Below Zero Creamery

Article By Abby Parks

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Tucked down 11th Street across from the Calhoun County Courthouse, the Below Zero Creamery is methodically captivating sugar lovers with its rolled ice cream creations, decorated shakes, and other dessert delights. In the short time since the shop opened on April 2, 2024, an increasing number of eager patrons have graced this charming shop to sample its tempting recipes.

From Ice Cream Truck to Shop

It makes sense to test the waters before jumping into opening a stationary store, and many food operators opt to start with a mobile business model. Below Zero Creamery began with the mother/daughter duo Cornechia Arnold and Brittney Ammons. Brittney had a strong desire to have an ice cream truck, so her mother abandoned an initial mobile bar idea to team up. Brittney researched options, wanting to go outside the box of traditional scooped or soft-serve ice cream. She settled on the idea of rolled ice cream–a mixture of milk, cream, sugar, and other flavors poured onto a cold surface such as a stone and chilled at a temperature of around -20°.

 

After some searching, they secured a trailer, and beginning on Mother’s Day weekend of 2021, they gutted and designed it over the course of 5 months, with Cornechia taking on the gutting and more intense labor, while Brittney focused on decor, purchasing necessary equipment, and developing their recipes (often tested on the children in their extended family for tastiness).

 

Their first outing was nerve-wracking–they chose Oxfordfest 2021 to premiere their rolled ice cream recipes. With lines all day long and compliments on their products, Below Zero seemed to be a “freezing” success. They spent the next year attending festivals and appearing at other private events like showers, weddings, and birthday parties. Eventually, the cramped, hot conditions in the trailer and the physical challenges motivated them to look towards opening a permanent ice cream shop.

 

After months of searching for the right space, they had the idea to talk to Mr. Downing of Downing & Sons, who owned multiple storefronts in downtown Anniston. Brittney explained, “My grandparents used to shop at his store when I was a little girl. So we just went and talked to him.” While he wasn’t an immediate “yes,” he observed their truck in operation at an event one day on Noble Street and soon afterward told them he had a building for them to operate from. Thrilled, the ladies and other family members jumped right in gutting, redesigning, and decorating their new storefront located at 26 W 11th St. in downtown Anniston.

 

Cornechia shared, “Everyone was excited because they said we brought something to Anniston.”

 

While they temporarily retired their truck, the mother/daughter team plans to bring it back to functionality for special events. They’ve also had suggestions to open a second location in Calhoun County or perhaps beyond its boundaries. Right now, their focus is on spreading the word about their unique shop.

The Signature Rolled Ice Cream and Other Treats

Below Zero Creamery’s signature dish is the cup of rolled ice cream. The ice cream is created in their shop from a vanilla-based mix which is poured onto the below-freezing stone and worked over with a metal spatula until it solidifies, at which point the thin layer of ice cream is rolled into a cylindrical shape, resembling a rolled tortilla. Depending on what flavors or additives the customer has decided on, those ingredients are worked into the ice cream and also appear in the cup, whether it be small chunks of cookies, cakes, or pieces of fruit. For example, one of their popular offerings, the Smores ice cream cup, features cookie crumbles and toasted marshmallows along with the rolled ice cream.

 

Their menu features 18 main flavors, along with weekly specials. Some of their offerings include:

 

  • Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Strawberry Pound Cake
  • Coffee Addict
  • Butter Pecan
  • Banana Split
  • Reeses
  • Peanut Butter Crunch
  • Cookie Monster
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Cotton Candy
  • S’more
  • Kit Kat
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Birthday Cake
  • Biscoff
  • Fruity Pebbles

 

They offer those same flavor combinations in milkshakes. The shakes combine the rolled ice cream, though not in that shape. It’s blended with regular or almond milk and their delicious extras. For example, their Coffee Addict shake features coffee fluff (similar to whipped cream), cane brown sugar, almond milk, and coffee flavoring, and it’s topped with whipped cream, caramel syrup, and a dash of almonds.

 

They also offer waffle desserts–a fresh waffle topped with ice cream and the customer’s choice of fruit, sweets, etc. Customers can also choose from peach or strawberry boba tea, strawberry, raspberry, blue raspberry, or lavender lemonade, and a unique energy drink–a cream float combined with Red Bull. 

 

Most menu options range from $8-$10, while child’s choices average $4. They even offer bags of freeze-dried puff candy in a variety of flavors. I sampled some based on Milk Duds and loved their lightness.

My Experience

I was immediately smitten with the shop’s overall appearance. It’s a quaint brick storefront with limited comfortable outdoor seating and tastefully-painted windows including the store’s name and specialties. Once inside, the gold-colored plush furniture with bright cushions caught my eye, as well as the intimate nooks throughout the store and the abundance of plants, many placed in upper areas around the windows. The distressed wood finishes around the counters and other areas, coupled with the original brick wall sporting the shop’s name in painted letters, added to the other decor to give the store a relaxed, vintage, bohemian vibe.

 

I decided on a chocolate rolled ice cream brownie cup. The rolled ice cream was mixed with chocolate syrup and brownie crumbles, with a brownie square, graham cracker, and cookie wafer tucked around the ice cream. The dessert was topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup drizzle. 

 

What I enjoyed was the lightness of the ice cream. While the chocolate flavor in the actual ice cream was faint, the additions to the treat, along with the syrup, gave it that chocolate punch I was seeking. I also enjoyed the unique thinner, more crisp texture of the ice cream in comparison to creamier traditional ice cream.

 

Below Zero Creamery has limited hours at present. They’re open Wednesday – Friday from 3:30 to 7:00 pm, and Saturdays from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. You can visit the store at 26 W 11th St., Anniston, Alabama. For more information, call (256) 624-6240 or email belowzerocreamery@gmail.com.

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