Ice cream is first order business in the Midwest. If you serve a North Dakotan or a Minnesotan ice cream that’s even remotely lackluster, they will politely thank you, and they will eat it — but they will not say it’s good. Not saying that something is good is the most scathing rebuke a Midwesterner keeps in their arsenal. Truly, if you’re to run a successful ice cream parlor in this neck of the woods, you had better bring your A game.

Michelle Harris-Pulling of Rapid City, South Dakota knows this well. She cut her teeth on the hospitality business when she opened Alternative Fuel Coffee House in her hometown, which she conceived as a friendly neighborhood joint that anyone could hang out in. When a nearby storefront opened up, she decided next to set her sights on ice cream.

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Michelle attended classes at the prestigious Frozen Dessert Institute in St. Louis, where she learned all the ins and outs of making superlative gourmet ice cream. Wherever she traveled she would tour other ice cream makers’ operations, learning secrets from as far away as Ireland and Iceland. She learned best of all that doing one thing and doing it very well is key to making people happy. With all of that, Michelle was ready to cut the ribbon on the inaugural Silver Lining Creamery in Rapid City.

Silver Lining Creamery proved a big hit, and became an inextricable part of South Dakotans’ summer plans. When her daughter-in-law told her about an ideal new venue that had become available in downtown Fargo, Michelle decided it a perfect opportunity to knock a whole new batch of people’s socks off with her delicious ice cream.

“We use natural ingredients as much as possible,” said Michelle. “All of our dairy is delivered to us fresh from local farms by Kemps, and even our bright purple coloring comes from carrot extract. We’ve yet to discover a natural coloring that can create the electric blue of our cotton candy flavor, but once we do you can be sure it’s all we’ll use.

“We make our ice cream in three gallon batches, so it’s always fresh, and we use 14 percent butterfat milk. Any richer than that and the ice cream actually begins to taste like butter! We blast freeze our ice cream to 22 degrees below zero, which prevents it from freezing unevenly to become grainy or chewy. Our ice cream’s texture is even more consistent because it has never left our parlor and been exposed to fluctuating temperatures. Silver Lining’s ice cream is what ice cream is supposed to be!”

Eager to appeal to customers with conventional palates, Silver Lining offers the core flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. They get creative, too. Their sweet Sriracha flavor pays homage to that delicious sauce which has managed to become so ubiquitous without ever advertising. They always have an earthy flavor in stock, like their lemongrass and sweet basil ice cream sweetened with lavender honey. They always have a cereal flavor as well, such as Captain Crunch — the bane of Soggies everywhere.

Those who seek pizzazz out of their frozen desserts are going to find what they’re after at the parlor. Fargoans with German heritage are probably genetically inclined toward liking Silver Lining’s dill pickle ice cream, topped with half of a big, green pickle. Their Funyuns flavor ice cream brings to mind that hot heavenly air that floats around the state fair, and tastes just like a french fry dipped in vanilla milkshake. 

Silver Lining’s “movie theater floor” flavor is inspired by the treats you might find littering the cinema after a double feature: caramel corn, Skittles, M&Ms, and Snickers. They are currently toying with the idea of a new flavor inspired by their own floor sweepings. (It would have premium and previously undropped tidbits, of course!) Silver Lining’s menu changes every two or three weeks, so you can always count on something new and exciting when you grace their parlor with your presence.

“We eat ice cream when we’re happy,” said Michelle. “We eat it when we take people out to celebrate. We even eat it when we’re sad. Ice cream is a silver lining, and everyone needs a silver lining in their life!”

The Silver Lining Creamery stays open year-round. You can get your cone in person at 123 Broadway N in Fargo, or learn more at silverliningcreamery.com.

By David Scheller