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Check it or Chuck it: Mayday sticks the sweet landing

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Good day, everyone. This is your captain speaking. On behalf of Spinnaker, I am pleased to welcome you aboard Flight Number Five with service to Mayday Ice Cream in St. Johns Town Center.

Mayday takes its aviation inspiration from American bomber pilots serving in Europe during World War II. Ice cream was challenging to include in wartime rations, but soldiers wanted a taste of home.

The high-flying altitudes of the “Flying Fortress” created the perfect temperature to freeze buckets of cream and sugar, creating ice cream. Pilots would fasten the buckets in the gunner pods above the loading bays. The pilot-made ice cream boosted morale among soldiers stationed in Europe.

Thankfully, Mayday serves far more than frozen cream and sugar. The shop boasts 16 unique, year-round flavors (one alcoholic flavor, Gillespie’s Bourbon Pecan) and eight rotating seasonal flavors. Per the chain’s website, each flavor is prepared in-house using quality ingredients. Sprinkles are also homemade and can be ordered online.

Mayday also sells some of their flavors in pint-sized portions. (Ethan Leckie)

Unfortunately for fans of small businesses, Mayday isn’t exactly a mom-and-pop shop. However, the shops remain a regional endeavor. The company has 14 shops in Florida, seven of which are Jacksonville-based and one in Mississippi. All 15 locations offer nationwide delivery for pints, which are also sold in-store.

So, how was it?

I had previously indulged in a scoop (or three) at this establishment. What I enjoy most about Mayday are their flavors, which always include a healthy mix of classic and unique varieties. I ardently support their Black Vanilla, classic vanilla ice cream mixed with activated charcoal, and Yule Nog, their boozy eggnog ice cream with gingerbread mixed in.

Also, with the Town Center right outside campus, the shop is the perfect place to get my ice cream fix.

It had been a while since I last went, so I grabbed my friends and secured some delicious ice cream. 

While the flavors are top-notch, the atmosphere leaves much to be desired. Given Mayday’s military pilot contemporaries and Jacksonville’s rich military history, I expected them to lean heavily into the fighter pilot theme. However, there were almost no decorations or imagery depicting anything military-themed. The store was more akin to the same gentrified, artisan-craft-hipster-joint aesthetic we all tire of. It was a missed opportunity, for sure.

While I appreciated the cleanliness of the shop, I was disappointed in the lack of aviation theming. (Ethan Leckie)

When ordering scoops, you can choose between “Pilot” (one scoop), “Wingman” (two scoops) or “Flight” (six scoops). There are also three options for cones—waffle, sugar, and pretzel—all made in-store. 

I wish they had an option for three scoops. There are so many good flavors that it’s hard to choose between only one or two. I also think the six-scoop option is an interesting idea; it’s perfect for sharing with friends, and I can imagine it would be pretty cheap on a college student’s budget if you split the check.

Oh, and did I mention that both their homemade sprinkles and galettes, which are waffle cone chip garnishments (also made in-house), are free of charge with every order?

But those flavors! I ordered the “Wingman” with Cloud 9 and Key Lime Pie. Black Vanilla wasn’t in season, so I had to improvise.

Key Lime Pie and Cloud 9, complete with house-made sprinkles and galettes. (Ethan Leckie)

Cloud 9 consisted of almond ice cream folded with sea salt and homemade marshmallow fluff, and Key Lime Pie was Key lime ice cream with toasted graham crackers folded in. I’m a sucker for anything Key lime-flavored, so I was an immediate fan (a Floridian disliking Key lime flavors is sacrilege in my book).

As for Cloud 9, almond tends to be a very subtle flavor, and Mayday’s rendition was much of the same: pleasant but forgettable.

What did my friends think? Well, one of them got the “Wingman” with Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cookie Crush and loved it. Cookie Crush was vanilla ice cream with Oreo icing and cookies mixed in. Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie was brown butter ice cream with folded-in chocolate chip cookies.

Cookie Crush and Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie received a positive reception. (Ethan Leckie)

“So yummy 10/10, Cookie Crush is a basic cookies and cream but more cookies, and Brown Butter [Chocolate Chip Cookie] is literally delectable,” she wrote.

My other friend also got the “Wingman,” with Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie and Coffee + Donuts. This flavor consisted of coffee ice cream made with 1565 Artisan Coffee and chopped glazed donuts mixed in.

Coffee + Donuts also proved to be a winner. (Ethan Leckie)

“I really dug mine, loved the Coffee + Donuts and the coffee was really strong which I liked and the donut pieces that were mixed in were huge and tasted great,” he said. 

Check it or chuck it?

Check it: While Mayday Ice Cream missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on its military inspirations, its flavors are the main attraction. Each flavor is made in-house and is a unique, refreshing take on classics. Along with their seasonal and boozy selections, there’s no shortage of options for ice cream lovers of all ages.

Mayday Ice Cream (Town Center)

Address: 4853 Big Island Drive #3, Jacksonville, FL 32246

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 12 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-11 p.m.

Website: https://www.maydayicecream.com/

___

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ethan Leckie
Ethan Leckie, Enterprise Editor
A Pad Thai enthusiast, NASCAR follower, and Jon Bois fanboy, Ethan Leckie is a third-year journalism major at the University of North Florida, minoring in international studies. He first began his involvement with Spinnaker as a volunteer reporter in the fall of 2021 and currently holds the position of Enterprise Editor. Ethan has always had a passion for writing and hopes to work for a newspaper one day. He enjoys watching YouTube, cooking, and visiting restaurants in his free time. If you see him on campus, ask him about his pieces - he loves to talk about them!

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