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LOUDON (WATE) - Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor in Loudon makes all its own ice cream on site, and if regulars from out of town are any indication it has the recipe for success.
Tic-Toc sits on the corner of Grove Street in Loudon. A trip there makes you feel like you've stepped back in time, even though the parlor has only been there for about 12 years.
Owners Mary and Bob Jones took over the shop seven years ago, being careful to preserve what was already started.
"We have a lot of old favorites (on the menu) and we came up with some of our own, " Mary said.
Manager Zeke Gainey let us watch as he made a fresh batch of chocolate chip ice cream. "This is pure vanilla extract from Madagascar. It's the best vanilla," he said as he poured in creamy liquid vanilla and ground vanilla beans.
Using only top grade ingredients and a high tech ice cream machine, they can make creamy favorites in eight to 11 minutes.
Despite all the technology though, Gainey still adds the chocolate shavings by hand.
"Since we are making homemade ice cream, you are not going to get a uniform amount of chocolate chips like you might find in mass produced ice cream, but I think it adds more character," he said with a smile.
When the ice cream, which is more like soft serve at this point, is in giant tubs, it's packed in a blast chiller that flash freezes it, getting it ready to be scooped. It's often served the same day it's made.
Tic-Toc has been honored by Southern Living magazine, and even has regulars who drive miles for a visit.
"People come from Knoxville all the time because you just can't get an old fashioned ice cream soda any more," the owners said.
Many people say Tic-Toc isn't just an ice cream shop, it's a destination.
That's just what the owners hope for. "You know the old 'Cheers' show?" Mary said. "That's just how Tic-Toc is. We know the people. There are a lot of regulars. We know what they want before they walk in the door."
Hundreds of pictures fill panels at the parlor, marking every year it's been open. There's no wall space left so the owners post more recent pictures on Facebook.
"I have been coming here since I was really little," said Jackie Corbin, 16, as she pointed out her picture.
Now you can find her here with her boyfriend, but the photo shows how a decade ago a different man in her life started the tradition.
"On Saturdays my Dad and I would come here. He is a truck driver, and he would not be in that much so on Saturdays we would come out here and have daddy days," Corbin said.
Tic-Toc has everything from sugar-free selections to a five-scoop sundae appropriately named "cardiac arrest."
The parlor closes for the winter. It's last day open this year is October 30. It reopens in the spring.