Ice and Vice: Changing the Lives of Foster Children in Mississippi
By Brandi Perry, Photos by Dori Lowe
Did you know that Madison is home to one of the most unique ice cream and coffee shops in the entire state? They offer more than 16 varieties of gelato, frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream, caffeinated options, as well as low-glycemic index, dairy-free and veganfree options! But still, their story is so much deeper and sweeter.
Sarah Dale Harmon and her husband Justin always wished there was somewhere to go late, other than bars. When an Orange Leaf franchise went out, they decided to buy their equipment and take a chance on making their dream come true. Before they opened, they wanted to be different than any other froyo place, and they have accomplished just that. Their unique selection of flavors and products has people driving from all over the state to experience what they are serving.
The ice cream (Ice) is their own soft-serve house recipe. The flavors may range from Blue Moon to egg nog and even lavender and Texas Peanut Butter. One of their most popular items is the Dole Whip sorbet that comes in cherry, lemon, lime, mango, orange, pineapple, strawberry and watermelon. Most businesses use one vendor to supply all their ice cream needs, but the Harmons decided on many different sources to meet their needs, and you can taste the difference. They wanted to meet the needs of diabetic people or those watching their caloric intake, and they have done that by offering keto and low sugar options.
Do not worry; it does not taste like a diet product. Kids are always happy when they visit Ice and Vice for their unique toppings. At any given time, you may find rose petals, pumpkin seeds, bacon bits, full-sized pop-tarts and even crushed wavy chips! The unique flavors are not by accident, and the Harmons pride themselves on creating the flavors.
“My husband and I are huge foodies, and anytime we travel, we spend weeks researching the food scene and finding out where and what we should eat,” explains Sarah Dale. “Our favorite places are always the ones with the most adventurous menus, and we try to mimic those risk-taking flavors and tastes when it comes to our ice cream, cotton candy and energy drinks,” she remarked. “I love researching flavor combinations and recipes. We create a lot of our flavors and recipes in-house. For example, our buttered popcorn gelato and our cookie butter gelato are recipes we created. Other custom-created fan-favorite flavors are our honey gelato and lavender gelato. The lavender gelato has a huge fan following, which surprised me! But people ask for it all the time,” Harmon continued.
But this is so much more than your typical ice cream shop. The energy drinks contain something most Mississippians are not aware of yet: allnatural Lotus energy. This ingredient provides plenty of energy minus the sugar. It is like the loaded teas that are so popular now, with far fewer ingredients. If coffee is your Vice, they can help you start your day with that or lattes. You can decide on many flavors for the energy drink. There are several predetermined recipes, or you can make your own by choosing a base, club soda or Red Bull, then the Lotus flavor, and what two other flavors you want. There is no bad combination of flavors. There is a lot more to this incredible business. They offer more than 50 snow cone flavors year-round. They also offer gourmet cones from New York that includes the flavors Pink Vanilla, Orange Cream and Black Charcoal. There are not many places you can find home-spun cotton candy.
A special part of their cotton candy is something called a Cloud Cone, and some of the more unique flavors are kiwi, root beer, coffee, champagne and pina colada.
Even still, the mission of Ice and Vice shocks some visitors that do not know the story. Foster children play a huge role in the success of the shop, and that was not by accident. The mission of Ice and Vice is built around supporting children in foster care and the young adults who have aged out of foster care. Their employment program gives children in care and those who have aged out an opportunity to gain work experience in a trauma-informed atmosphere. Ice and Vice employs 15 teenagers—60% are great teens from the community while the rest are in foster care, have aged out or were adopted from care. A few live in a group home at Methodist Children’s Home, and the house moms drive them to and from work. The house moms really make huge sacrifices for the children to experience a little bit of normalcy. They offer continuing education opportunities and workshops for employees, along with a transportation program for those that need it.
Throughout the year, they raise funds for their biannual transportation scholarship to help the youth in care buy their first vehicle. The reason the Harmons decided to focus their mission on foster children is that they have a great deal of experience with the foster system. It is close to their hearts because all four of their children were adopted out of foster care, and they were therapeutic foster parents for five years with Methodist Children’s Home.
“It was one of the most beautiful and brutal experiences of our lives. You know things you wish you did not, and you know things you wish everyone knew. But at the end of the day, we need more foster parents in Mississippi,” Sarah Dale recalled.
Madison and the surrounding community have been so wonderful to Sarah Dale, Justin and their business, and they know that Ice and Vice is there to stay. But that does not mean that you won’t see a mobile Ice and Vice in the future that they can take to festivals and other events. Not only would they be able to distribute their incredible product to more people, but also share their special mission across the state.
When asked where they hope Ice and Vice will be in five years, Sarah Dale answered, “In five years, I hope I have helped five more foster kids get their first vehicle and continue to be a place for families to create lifelong memories and traditions.” Patrons need to be on the lookout for more crazy, delicious treats that will be coming from the Harmons soon and keep your eyes out for their new adventure coming soon!
If you are planning a visit, they are located at 1022 US-51 in Madison, Mississippi. Monday through Thursday, they are open from 12 pm to 9:30 pm, Fridays they are open from 12 pm to 12 am, Saturday from 1 pm to 12 am, and Sunday from 1 pm to 9:30 pm. If you need any more information, please reach out to them at (769) 257-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org.