SPECIAL COVERAGE ON THE CORONAVIRUS
We All Scream For Nona's Ice Cream!
By Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff, July 19, 2020
Nona's Ice Cream in Hingham Square [Hingham Current file photo/Kristen Arute]
It's not just National Ice Cream month. Sunday, July 19th is officially National Ice Cream Day. However, local folks don't need a holiday. For almost 20 years, Krissy Donahue and her husband have been helping Hingham celebrate a love of this sweet, creamy treat all year long.
The storefront in Hingham Square was once a TCBY, and Donahue worked there as an employee. One day the owner approached her to see if she were interested in taking over. She said yes. "We ran the TCBY for about a year and a half, and then we changed it over to homemade ice cream one winter," said Donahue. "We opened on March 10, 2001." It's been a true family affair. "We have four kids," she continued," and they've all worked there. Our kids literally grew up in the store" Their children's friends have worked for Nona's too. "We try to treat everyone like family."
So where does the inspiration for their 100+ different delicious concoctions come from? "We got in touch with a vendor for supplies, and he sat down with us and gave us some recipes," said Donahue. "Also, I used to make ice cream at home every Christmas to give to people, so it was kind of a conglomeration of recipes." The vendor they purchased their first freezer from also provided them with ideas. "People were just willing to hand us stuff," she said.
Donahue and her husband have also created their own unique flavors. "We had one child when we started who was 9 months old, and her name is Madeline," she said. "So we created a flavor called 'Hurricane Madeline' that is still today one of our best sellers." Another mainstay is a nod to the town they started their business in. "Right when we opened we also made 'Hingham Harbor Sludge,' and that's still a best seller," she said. "I'd wanted to have an ice cream store so that I could have coffee Oreo, so that's also one of our top sellers."
They have experimented with other flavors over the years. "We try a lot of new things," said Donahue. "Some go well; some don't." One that was surprisingly unpopular was "Breakfast Blend." "It was vanilla and strawberry together with Grape Nuts in it," she explained,"and it wasn't a big hit." Another was a bit more unusual. "We did avocado one summer. It was decent, but I think we put too many avocados in." There was a bit of an ulterior motive for that particular flavor. "We were hoping Tom Brady would come try some," she quipped.
Due to the nature of the fresh ingredients they use, some flavors don't always work. "We've tried peach on several occasions," said Donahue, "but that has never been as great as we'd like it to be." However, there are some seasonal flavors that are offered every year. "Most of our seasonal flavors are in the fall. We do pumpkin cheesecake and apple crumble," she explained, "and in the winter we do gingerbread." They do have an annual summer offering. "We do 'Summer Swirl,'" she continued. "We only do that in the summer, because we use fresh strawberries and blueberries."
Nona's expanded into Scituate Harbor nine years ago, and their ice cream truck, which can be rented for events and had been going to the beaches and the Farmer's Market, continues to be popular. Their products can also be found in a store in Norwell Center that is run by another couple from Scituate. Nona's has one final plan for future expansion. "We've been in talks with Previte's Deli," said Donahue. "They're opening up in Hanover, and we're supposed to go in with them."
Nona's plans to stay around for a long time, so ice cream fans don't need to run out on National Ice Cream Day to grab a cup or a cone. Social distancing requirements have created a level of complication though. "We're trying to not overcrowd things," said Donahue. "The Board of Health has been great helping us get through it all with all of the requirements."
Donahue and her husband look forward to celebrating the store's anniversary in March 2021 and are thrilled with the success they have seen during the time they've been in business. She had a special message for their customers. "Thanks so much for the support through the years. Hingham has been phenomenal," she said. "Hingham Square is so unique. You can't beat the historic Hingham Square; you just can't beat it."