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A Durham moment: free scoops of Vegan Black Sesame

Starting about noon Monday, people began to gather inside The Parlour, craning their necks to see the flavors of the day. They were waiting patiently for dependable flavors such as vanilla and strawberry and unique choices like Salty Malty Cookie Gravel, Key Lime Pie, and the fan favorite, Salted Butter Caramel. 

People came alone, in pairs, and in groups. At times the line spilled out onto Market Street. Two teenagers holding skateboards stood behind a young couple with a wide-eyed infant. A group of soccer players arrived sweaty from practice. Down the block, a busker sat on a stoop, serenading customers with his saxophone.

The weather was iffy, but that didn’t stop the crowd. How could anyone be bothered when they were just minutes away from free ice cream?  

The Parlour is in prime ice cream eating territory in downtown Durham —  just off CCB Plaza, the home of Major the Bull. The shop has satisfied sweet tooths since April 2013. To thank customers on the business’ 10th anniversary, owners Yoni and Vanessa Mazuz offered free single scoops, in a cup or sugar cone (with rainbow sprinkles, if desired), all day Monday. 

A line lingered as day turned to dusk. At 7:30 p.m., about a dozen eager customers were still waiting outside the door. 

Once inside, customers were greeted with cheery pink and white walls, upbeat rap music, and the inviting scent of sugar cones. Smiling employees muscled multiple scoops a minute, and the line moved quickly. One patron, too overwhelmed by the choices to pick in advance, said, “It’s just gonna have to be a game-time decision!” 

Alex Gorry and Sophie Faxon, regulars at The Parlour, enjoyed their scoops at a table near the window. Faxon, a solar energy educator, found out about the event on Reddit. The pair visits The Parlour at least once a month. “We’ll walk around the farmer’s market on Saturdays and stop by for a scoop,” said Faxon. “They have really great non-dairy flavors.” 

Faxon, who has a dairy allergy, recommended the Vegan Black Sesame. “I normally wouldn’t have tried it, but it was delicious and really interesting.” 

The Parlour is known for its rotation of vegan options. On Monday, the flavors were Black Sesame, Mango Mochi, and Guava Passionfruit Sorbet. For those dairy-averse customers who wished to test their luck with milk and cream-based flavors, packets of Lactaid were available for purchase. 

The Parlour and other local shops have been facing some formidable competition lately. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a nationwide chain founded in Ohio, opened on Main Street in 2021. 

But faithful fans still flock to The Parlour. Rajas Pandey and Pushkar Nimkar, both master’s degree students at Duke University, have been Parlour enthusiasts since arriving in Durham. Nimkar even has a punch card; if he buys ten scoops of ice cream, he’ll get the 11th for free.

Photo above: Customers line up for a free scoop to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Parlour.  Photo by Abigail Bromberger – The 9th Street Journal