Puppy Love at The Ice Cream Shack

I’m sorry to disappoint, but this post isn’t about real puppies.

To make it up to you, here is a picture of a real puppy:


Just try to resist this face!
This is a post about “puppy chow” (also known as “muddy buddies”). This classic treat, often found at holiday parties, is made by mixing Chex cereal with melted chocolate and peanut butter and then coated it all in powdered sugar. I find it terribly addicting. Stand me next to a bowl of it, and five minutes later you’ll find an empty bowl and my face covered in powdered sugar. Come to think of it, now I know why it’s called “puppy chow”…  

This year’s “puppy chow” season began early for me. In Peoria, Illinois, of all places. The boyfriend and I spent Labor Day weekend visiting his grandma, who lives in Peoria. (Coincidentally, the boyfriend’s parents were also in town for their high school reunion. They were high school sweethearts!) While our trip began and ended in the city of Peoria, the bulk of our time was spent at his grandma’s cabin on an old strip-mined lake in central Illinois. This place is rustic. No toilets, no running water, no phones or internet. The boyfriend loves it. My hair does not.

After two days of fishing, swimming, slamming fingers in doors (just me), and dodging rain showers (courtesy of Hurricane Issac), we returned to Peoria for a shower and comfy bed before our morning flight back to DC. During a family dinner, the boyfriend’s sweets-loving aunt tipped me off to a local ice cream haunt called The Ice Cream Shack. I had to see it for myself. When in Peoria, do as the Peorians do.

We arrived at The Ice Cream Shack after dark, but the place was buzzing with activity. The Shack is more well-known for its wide selection of toppings than their ice cream itself. Not unlike Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot, the Shack uses vanilla and/or chocolate soft serve in their cones, “wizards,” shakes and sundaes. They also serves chili dogs and fries – perfect for a quick pre-dessert meal. The locals rave about the 25 different types of “wizards” (soft serve ice cream blended with toppings). Their best seller is the “Turtle Wizard,” a blend of caramel, hot fudge, pecans, and vanilla ice cream. But I was craving something even more unique. Perusing the menu, the first thing that caught my eye was the “Freight Train Wizard.” But while the lady behind the counter listed the ingredients in the “Freight Train” (nine different candies such as Kit Kats, Snickers and M&Ms), my eyes landed on: “Puppy Chow.” After confirming that “Puppy Chow” meant what I thought it did, I eagerly ordered a small serving. The Ice Cream Shack is cash-only, but their prices are so low (less than $3 for a small) that it wasn’t a problem.
“Puppy Chow” reincarnated

The verdict? Pretty doggone good! The Ice Cream Shack’s “Puppy Chow Wizard” is a cool and refreshing twist on my favorite holiday party mix. The Shack’s vanilla soft serve is mixed with peanut butter, Chex cereal, and mini chocolate chips. The ice cream itself is creamy and thick (just the way I like it) with an intense peanut butter flavor. The cool creaminess is contrasted by the crisp crunch of Chex cereal, which has been finely crushed by the Shack’s mixer. My one complaint is a lack of the deep chocolate flavor that’s characteristic of the holiday treat. The mini chocolate chips are either too small or too frozen to add much flavor to the Wizard. I would suggest substituting them with thin flakes of milk chocolate. However, the Shack is very generous with toppings – making the first bite as good (i.e. topping-filled) as the last. So the next time you’re in Peoria, ring in the “Puppy Chow” season early at The Ice Cream Shack.

The Stats:
The Ice Cream Shack
2313 NE Adams Street
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 686-2828
(cash-only)