The Unbrand.

I spend my days thinking about brands. Food brands. I gauge if a new milk product is going to sell well, based on its packaging and branding message. I labor over language and relationships and images connected to the brand of the store. I constantly strive to determine what brand is the most unique, most transparent, most ethical, most sustainable, most delicious, most local, most… whatever. Sometimes, it’s just exhausting.

Which is why, when I stumbled across what was essentially an unbrand, I fell in love.


No fancy language. No slogan. No twitter account. (Not even a mention on twitter.) No photographs or website or special signage or anything. Just a freestanding ice cream shop with a reader board next to the road, 100 feet of plastic triangles spread to its sign and an energetic young woman who was extremely curious about my taking pictures.


There’s a walk-up window. And flavors such as Anniversary Cake and Superman. And Mango sorbet. When I asked the girl if the ice cream was homemade, she said no. And I didn’t care. I totally didn’t care.


Because there were seats like these, nestled into cracked black asphalt. Because there was a gravel driveway. Because it was a beautiful evening and there was no line. Because I became, for a minute or two, an eight-year-old again.


And even though I didn’t take my lactose intolerance pill, even though the ice cream wasn’t the best I’d had, even though it didn’t come with recycled napkins with a cool logo and a website printed upon them, I was happy.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, ice cream is simply ice cream.

Sparano’s Ice Cream & Gelato
1783 N. Hague Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43204


9 thoughts on “The Unbrand.

  1. Jaydubs says:

    Aw, cute! Now you need to go to Clown Cone with me at Northern Lights! IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.

  2. jill says:

    I can do that, so long as I take my special pill first.

  3. maya says:

    Love this one.

  4. Amy says:

    +1, jaydubs!!

    Their freezer-burned ice cream is really only there to soothe the trauma of Clown Cone’s alternate reality.

  5. Jaydubs says:

    Yeah, I’d definitely recommend a sedative of some sort first, but trust me, it’s *so* worth it.

    And Maya, I think you should come to Columbus for Comfest! It will be super-fun!

  6. Baseball Boy says:

    Incidentally, Clown Cone was brought up during the aformentioned Subway first-date.

  7. maya says:

    When is Comfest this year? And are there actual (*shudder*) clowns at this Clown Cone place? If so, I will *not* be hitting that one up.

  8. Jaydubs says:

    No clowns (at least, none in costume), but the decor is clown-riffic.

  9. JRooney says:

    Have you been to Mardi Gras? It’s an underestimated looking ice cream shop in an unattractive strip on the corner of Hard Road and Smokey Row. It’s owned by an Indian family. It has the full line of standards plus an amazing selection of Indian flavors. It’s awesome!

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