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[Cheap Eats]

Sweet Creams
Blendah bendah!

on the cheap
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Nestled within the shadows of Tufts University’s Walnut Hill lurks one of Medford’s little secrets. Once the weather turns warm, students and locals flock night after night to Sweet Creams to indulge their ice-cream fantasies, and proprietor Joe Stoico happily obliges. A modest sign in the store tells patrons that the ice cream is 96 percent fat-free, but few notice as they stand in front of the menu, dumbstruck by the sheer excess of Stoico’s signature creation, the Blender, which comes in 150 flavor combinations.

The creamy concoction, which is available in small ($2.69), medium ($2.90), or large ($3.89), is vanilla or chocolate soft-serve ice cream whipped together with a selection of ingredients that vary from sesame seeds to Snickers bars. Every Blender is made to order, but it’s certainly worth the wait. The flavors range from conventional favorites, like mud pie, Oreo, and rocky road, to one-of-a-kind creations, like Cruella Deville Dog (chocolate-devil’s-food ice cream with chunks of Devil Dogs), Jungle Buzz (Kahlúa ice cream with banana chunks and chocolate bits), and Not Just Another Dumb Blonde Brownie (butterscotch ice cream, blond-brownie chunks, chocolate chips, and butterscotch crackle).

Flavors described as Kahlúa or butterscotch tend to be very mild (think Dannon-yogurt subtlety rather than Ben & Jerry’s knockout punch); but the other ingredients, such as brownie dough and fresh fruit, make up for what’s missing. When choosing a flavor, going big (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup–cheesecake, for example) seems to yield the best results.

The Blenders get the most attention at Sweet Creams (Stoico has about 400 flavors on file), but the store also offers a traditional ice-cream-shop menu — all soft-serve. Among the more unusual novelties are the Thrillin’ Chillin’ Blendah, which is a combination of slush and vanilla ice cream ($2.69 to 3.89), and the brand-new Full O’Bull Ice Cream Freeze ($3.95), a blend of Red Bull and vanilla ice cream.

The store has a cheery décor, with cushioned window seats, brightly colored plastic tables and chairs, and spinning pinwheels — all reminiscent of a romper room. Patrons can also sit at a few tables outside and watch the parade of cars, Boston Avenue dinner patrons, and Tufts kids making beer runs. At Sweet Creams, however, the menu is what’s intoxicating.

Sweet Creams is located at 330 Boston Avenue in Medford.

Issue Date: May 31- June 7, 2001