Let’s face it. Most of us are ready for summer to get here – sunny skies, warmer temperatures and a savory, refreshing ice cream cone. Bonnie and Keith Gordon certainly are, and they’ve wasted no time in bringing a little bit of the summer spirit to the Delaware shore. Their York, Pa.-area ice cream and snowball shop – Bonkey’s – has created such a stir that they decided to share their success, opening their third location in Millville, along Route 26, this past week.
“It all started years and years ago with our snoballs,” explained Bonnie, whose father opened a small snoball shack after wrecking his brother’s car. “His mother made him pay for it, and he started selling snoballs to make money. He would scrape the ice left over from the milkman’s ice block and add flavors to it.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Stewartstown, Pa., location, which became known as Summertime in Stewartstown, became a hit, and a second location was introduced in New Freedom, Pa., in 2004. With the addition of Keith to the business, they created Bonkey’s, joining their name’s together in a twist.
While Turkey Hill ice cream became a staple at the Pennsylvania spots in 1999, the two eventually decided that they could put their heads – and Bonnie’s Ice Cream Short Course education from Penn State – together, and provide their own variety of ice cream flavors. In March of 2007, seven flavors of homemade ice cream were available at Bonkey’s, and by June of that same year, more than 30 more flavors were introduced.
Today, Bonkey’s boasts more than 40 flavors, with many new ones on the way. Customers can grab a cup or cone of many traditional, and some not-so common, ice cream flavors, including Birthday Cake, Joe’s Garage, Banana Cream Pie, Cookie Monster or the Great Googly Moogly. Of course, the classics are readily available, but don’t be surprised when someone walks up beside you and orders a double scoop of bacon ice cream.
“It’s something that people either love or don’t really like,” Keith Gordon said with a smile. “It tastes exactly how it sounds, and some people can’t get enough of it.”
Bonnie and Keith Gordon have developed a way to ensure their rich, creamy ice cream stays so sweet and fresh. The milk used to prepare the ice cream at their Pennsylvania shop is delivered from the dairy farms in only a matter of a few short hours. Every week, Keith Gordon delivers another shipment of gallons upon gallons of their ice cream to Millville, often bringing in new flavors.
Patrons can grab their favorite ice cream in a cup or in one of the various cones that Bonkey’s carries, from classic sugar cones to chocolate sprinkle waffle cones to pretzel or chocolate chip cookie cones.
But why stop there? Bonkey’s hasn’t forgotten its roots, serving up the snoballs that started it all.
“There is an endless combination of flavors you can get on your snoball,” said Bonnie Gordon. “They’re very refreshing. Our snoballs are like the Hawaiian shaved ice – not the hard ice chips. They are like actual snowballs, and we’ve got tons of flavors for them.”
Following that Hawaiian model, ice cream in the bottom and marshmallow on top of these shaved ice treats is the way to go, according to Bonnie Gordon.
Bonkey’s also specializes in sundaes, from triple milkshake sundaes to Hollywood Sundaes, themed around some of the biggest blockbusters of all time. The movie motif sundaes pay special homage to the New Freedom shop, which was designed on an old, abandoned movie theater, marquee and all. Tuesdays are BYOB – Bring Your Own Banana, for a half-price banana split in a box, maximizing the toppings available.
“Traditional banana splits are served in narrow portions,” said Bonnie, “and you can’t fit too much on them. Here, we serve the Banana Sundae Squared, giving you big scoops of ice cream and lots of toppings.”
For customers with a sweet tooth looking for a quick fix on the run, chocolate-covered bananas; cheesecake on a stick, dipped in hard-shell chocolate; or the dipped ice cream sandwiches on a stick provide a savory solution.
Looking for something with a little less guilt? Sliced bananas with chocolate syrup can cut back on some of the calories, and sugar-free ice cream and snoballs are also available. Quarts of the homemade ice cream and packs of ice cream sandwiches can also be purchased.
While there are some benches available at the Millville shop from which to enjoy a summertime treat, Bonkey’s is really a get-it-and-go kind of place for an ice cream fix, maximizing the number of customers that can step up to the window. Photos of happy customers enjoying a cone or a sundae line the walls in Stewartstown and New Freedom, and cameras have been snapping away at the Millville location since their opening last week.
“We’ve always enjoyed summertime,” said Bonnie Gordon, “and we wanted to have something here at the beach where we could give back. People like coming back and seeing their pictures on the wall.”
And not only is Bonkey’s providing summertime treats to customers, but they hired local students to bring a welcoming familiarity to the business.
“We want to be part of the community,” Bonnie Gordon emphasized.
As the Pennsylvania locations prepare for their seasonal openings, Bonnie Gordon’s niece, Lydia, plans to help run the Millville location, too.
“It’s nice to really keep a tradition going,” said Bonnie Gordon, “and have your family around, too. We get to have it all.”
Bonkey’s is located across from Atlantic Auto Repair and Lord Baltimore Elementary School on Atlantic Avenue in Millville. They are open throughout the week, from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m., and on weekends from noon until 9 p.m. Hours are expected to expand with the approaching summer season. For more information, check out www.bonkeys.com.
“People love stopping by,” said Keith Gordon, who has come to be known as “Mr. Bonkey” around the York area. “There are so many flavors and toppings that combinations are endless. We make hot people cool!”