Ice cream maker and Hollywood film producer Stratton Leopold and his wife Mary carry on a family tradition of making the "VeriBest" one-of-a-kind ice cream in Savannah.
During a recent visit to the City of Savannah, I kept seeing advertisements for Leopold's Ice Cream and locals told me it's the place to go for ice cream and sandwiches. They also mentioned that the owner, Stratton Leopold, is a movie producer.
Intrigued, and hungry for a sweet, cool treat, I made my way to 212 E. Broughton Street in the historic district. I decided to wait until a friend joined me before ordering, so I took a seat. A waiter came by and I asked if Mr. Leopold was available. He said that Mr. Leopold was in his office but would be out shortly. In the meantime, he said Mary Leopold, Stratton's wife, was in the parlor and comes around to all of the tables.
A woman came to my table and asked if she could pour me a glass of water. As she did, I asked if she was Mary and she was. As we visited, she told me that this is an anniversary year. Mary and Stratton's 16th wedding anniversary and the 93rd anniversary of the founding of Leopold's Ice Cream. Mary said that a big bash is planned for August 18 to celebrate the founding of Leopold's Ice Cream.
I learned that three immigrant brothers from Greece, George, Peter, and Basil Leopold, founded Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia in 1919. The brothers learned the art of dessert making from an uncle, perfected the "secret formulas," and eventually created and trademarked Leopold's VeriBest ice cream.
The original ice cream shop closed in 1969, but Mary said that she and Stratton decided to reopen it in 2004. Stratton is the youngest son of original founder Peter Leopold. In the interim, Stratton had pursued his dreams of going to Hollywood.
Wall of movie posters of films that Stratton Leopold was involved in making. Leopold's Ice Cream. Savannah, GA June 2012
Mary told me that all of the ice cream is freshly made each day on-site, and there are a number of yummy regular and seasonal or special flavors.
As we spoke, a man came around the corner whom Mary introduced as her husband Stratton. He asked me where I'm from and when I said Northwest Arkansas that brought a smile to Stratton's face. He recalled making the 1989 movie "Man Outside" in Fayetteville, Arkansas and spoke of how beautiful the scenery is in Northwest Arkansas.
Stratton's filmography is quite extensive. He is the executive producer of "Mission: Impossible III," "Paycheck," and "The Sum of All Fears" among others. I also learned that he is the co-producer of one of my favorite crime drama films, "The General's Daughter" starring John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe and James Cromwell.
Mary and Stratton Leopold stand in front of The General's Daughter poster. Leopold's Ice Cream. Savannah, GA June 2012
Stratton wanted to make sure I had a flier about "The I Pledge Project." He launched this project in 2010. The flier reads, in part: "I Pledge" rewards children for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance from memory with a free ice cream cone. Kicking off on July 1st and continuing throughout the month (which is also National Ice Cream Month!), children of all ages who come to this store with their parents on the designated dates and times will get a coupon for their ice cream while joining hundreds of children across the U.S. in showing their love for their flag and their country.
For more information about the "I Pledge" project and participating stores across the U.S., please go to this site.
After my friend arrived, I made my way to the ice cream counter where I quickly found that deciding on which flavor to order was not an easy decision. So, I chose two - Honey Almond Cream and Chocolate Chocolate Chip. For about 30 years I have proclaimed that Häagen-Dazs' Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream cannot be topped. Now, however, the reigning champion is Chocolate Chocolate Chip at Leopold's Ice Cream. And, honestly, if angels made ice cream it would have to taste like the Honey Almond Cream.
Smiles by Leopold's Ice Cream staff abound. Savannah, GA June 2012
Smiles and delicious treats abound at Leopold's Ice Cream. For everything from ice cream to fountain creations to sandwiches and much more, Leopold's Ice Cream is the place to go when in Savannah. I'm grateful to the locals for recommending it and appreciate Mary and Stratton Leopold for taking the time to visit with me. As they say on their website, "We hope you will be visiting us in Savannah soon." They mean that, and you will not be disappointed.