We all scream … ! Ice cream lovers line up at seasonal stands in Merrimack, Brookline and Milford

MERRIMACK – In the depths of the Great Depression, a Pepperell, Mass. veterinarian named Dr. Davis would lift spirits by hosting free entertainments for townspeople, playing movies and serving his homemade ice cream made from cream from his cows.

Everyone liked the ice cream so much he opened a little stand in front of his house, a house that is still there.

Those were the days when ice cream generally came in three flavors, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, so you have to wonder how the doctor would have reacted to peanut butter moose trax or chocolate chip cookie dough.

Those are top telling ice cream flavor at the satellite Dr. Davis stand on Route 13 in Brookline where they have around 82 varieties of soft and hard ice cream.

Or how about gramtastics, made with chocolate-covered graham crackers?

That’s the personal favorite of Shannon Veilleux, 19, who was tending the stand one recent day.

Over in Merrimack, the King Kone stand doesn’t have as colorful a history, but no matter, people flock to the seasonal stand on Daniel Webster Highway for the soft-serve.

Meghan Leonard and her daughter, Jaelyn Cobb, 5, and niece Makayla Sullivan were sitting on the grassy sloop at the edge of the parking lot last Thursday eating, respectively, Reese razzle, cookie dough razzle and Oreo razzle. Razzles mean that lots of chunky treats are mixed into the ice cream.

Leonard said she grew up in Merrimack and coming to King Kone is a family tradition she is happy to pass on.

Lisa Williams and her children Aidan and Mairead, ages 4 and 6, were at one of King Kone’s picnic tables eating twists covered with sprinkles and their mother said they bought them with dollar coins from the Merrimack Library’s reading club.

Among the servers dishing out treats was Kaylee Pyrez, who said the vanilla and chocolate twist is King Kone’s customers’ favorite.

Family lore

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Rich Perkins of Nashua went to Hayward’s Ice Cream in Milford with John Albert after they worked on a diesel engine.

In the parking lot was Perkins beautifully maintained 1957 Ford Fairlane.

“It knows its way to a lot of ice cream shops,” Perkins said as he ate a chocolate chip cone, while Albert dipped into a cup of Fluffernutter.

July was National Ice Cream Month but we talked to seemed to know that or care.

George Bower (mocha chocolate chip and chocolate tsunami), his wife Jackie (cherry vanilla and coconut almond) and their daughter, Ali (cookie dough brownie), were sitting at a nearby picnic table at Haywards.

The Bowers, who live in Amherst, had just spent a couple hours picking blueberries in Wilton, and as they drove down Elm Street through Milford.

Jackie said, “George, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”So they made the left turn into Hayward’s.

The ice cream stand has made its way into Bower family lore.

Jackie remembered that it was a hot day in July, 29 years ago, when they were bringing their newborn son, Andrew, home from the hospital and stopped into Hayward’s, and the “ice cream was running down our hands.”

They also talked about the time they rode here on bicycles from their Amherst house, going the roundabout way on North River Road to get there and then taking the shorter way home because a lightening storm was close by.

According to Wikipedia, the Persians made some of the first ice cream by pouring grape juice concentrate on ice.

Another origin story has Roman Emperor Nero bringing snow from the mountains and mixing it with fruit.

But it’s hard to imagine that those concoctions would inspire the died-and-gone-to-heaven feeling that causes Americans to consume around 13 quarts a year, on average.

The online encyclopedia also says vanilla and chocolate are the favorite flavors, but not at Hayward’s.

Stephanie Palladino, who is working her fourth season at the Milford ice cream stand, said specialty flavors like coffee cake, peanut butter Oreo and purple panther yogurt are selling very well.

The Haywards have been selling ice cream on Elm Street since the middle of the 20th century, except for one long interruption and reopened with a new stand in 2001.

According to the town history, the first recorded sale of ice cream in Milford was in 1876 at George Melendy’s store on Union Square, where candy, ice cream and hardware were sold.

National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day (the third Sunday in July) were started in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan to promote the dairy and ice cream industries.

But around here, at least, it seems to need no promotion.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@