Enjoy this Salt Lake City ice cream shop, while you can

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Walk by the shop at 928 E. 900 South in Salt Lake City in between May and September, and the sign reads “Cloud Ninth Creamery.” Walk by the same storefront in November and December, and it reads “Garden Gate Candy.”

If you weren’t paying attention, or don’t live in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, you might miss the switch — or walk right past both shops entirely.

The chocolate shop dates back to 1942, when Cornelius and Helen Vanderlinden bought an ice cream parlor.

“What happened was: During World War II, they started rationing all the ingredients to make ice cream,” their grandson, Josh Plumb, said. “At that point, my grandfather switched to chocolates, because you could get the stuff to make chocolates.”

Garden Gate Candy doesn’t have a website. They’ve never placed an ad. The family makes thousands and thousands of pounds of chocolate and toffee during the holidays, with a customer base grown mostly by word of mouth. If they run out of stock on December 5, they close up shop for the season.

Each spring, Plumb is behind the counter, scooping ice cream. “It’s not a specific date,” Plumb said. “We open in May, and we go though the end of September.”

He’s been doing that since 2018, when Cloud Ninth opened. So 80 years later, “It’s come full circle,” he said.

Cloud Ninth does maintain a website. It also maintains active Facebook and Instagram accounts — which is how they announce what’s in the freezer this week, whether it’s ice cream, gelato, sorbet, Dole Whip or shaved ice.

When Plumb creates a new flavor, he scoops it until it’s gone. If people like it, he makes more. If they don’t, he doesn’t. It’s not like Baskin-Robbins or a Cold Stone Creamery, Plumb said, where you go in knowing all the flavors are going to be there all the time.

“We’re always doing different flavors, even by the week. If you came in on a Monday, there’s an absolute chance that there will be different flavors on Saturday. At least probably two or three,” he said. “That’s our way to experiment — what kind of flavors work and what doesn’t work. If it sells really well, we’ll run it for a little bit. If it doesn’t sell that well, we’ll replace it with something else, and see how that does.”

He said it’s good and bad, because he has people who come in and ask for certain flavors. “And I have to say, ‘Sorry, we don’t have that right now,’” he said. “People like the variety, but those people who really like certain flavors come back, and they’re not there.”

This spring, fans also can find Cloud Ninth at Hogle Zoo in the Cat Wok Cafe, next to the red panda exhibit. Flavors include a red panda swirl (a red velvet ice cream mixed with handmade cheesecake frosting) that’s exclusive to the zoo. They also supply the cafe with dirty Oreo (salted chocolate and Oreo cookies), peanut butter and jelly, and a berry sorbet.

In the last week of May, some of the flavors Cloud Ninth served included Dirty Monkey (salted chocolate with Oreos and bananas), birthday cake and banana cream pie, a collaboration with Pie Fight across the street. “We put their pie crust in it,” Plumb said. “It sells like crazy.”

Some of the more extreme flavors they do, Plumb said, include lavender-sesame, wasabi and ginger. Whenever they can, Plumb said, they use seasonal ingredients — in the fall, they use fresh peaches to make a peach pie ice cream (again, with crust from Pie Fight). They also make their own cookie dough and stracciatella. The toffee in the toffee caramel crunch is from Garden Gate Candy, and the caramel is made by hand.

“It’s a very homemade thing,” Plumb said. “It’s not like we’re breaking up Skor bars and putting them in there. We really do try to make everything we can from scratch.”

Cloud Ninth is open Monday through Thursday from 1 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1 to 10:30 p.m., and closed on Sunday.

Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

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