LE MARS, Iowa | I is for Ice Cream.
So say the tens of thousands of visitors who make their way annually to Le Mars, "Ice Cream Capital of the World."
A visitor from Nebraska, for example, pulled into Le Mars on her way to the Twin Cities. A check of Google Maps showed the traveler would have saved time, perhaps up to 40 minutes, by taking Interstate 80 to Interstate 35.
That route, however, didn't feature a stop in Le Mars, where the driver found her favorite: Just Peachy Ice Cream served at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and Museum, a 6-year-old visitors center devoted to the story and outstanding tastes served by Wells Enterprises, makers of Blue Bunny ice cream and frozen novelties.
The parlor/museum is located within a historic building on Central Avenue in downtown Le Mars, an 1875 2-story brick structure said to be among the oldest business sites in western Iowa, having served as a hardware and farm equipment outlet before becoming an auto dealership.
A centerpiece, or focal point, might be the marble bar, which came from M&M Bakery & Cafe in O'Neill, Nebraska.
A video detailing the story of founder Harry C. Wells and how he founded Wells Dairy with a horse, wagon and milk route in 1913. On display is a contact Wells signed for a milk route on Oct. 24, 1913.
That route gave rise to the largest employer in Le Mars, a maker of Blue Bunny ice cream and frozen novelties, and a force in the frozen treats trade.
The gorgeous parlor, which measures 12,000 square feet, has a grand, open staircase allowing guests to access a second-floor party room that holds up to 130 people.
The Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor isn't simply a magnet for travelers from places like Lincoln, Nebraska, or Sioux City. It has also welcomed dessert lovers from all over the world, even President Barack Obama, who scooped up a dish of mint chip ice cream. His opponent meantime, Republican Mitt Romney, enjoyed a chocolate malt.
Other U.S. leaders who have found their way to this "cool" stop in the "Ice Cream Capital of the World," have included Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and more.