Smile Politely

Jarling’s Custard Cup is a classic spot for cool treats

One of the longest running dessert establishments in Champaign, Jarling’s Custard Cup is a staple on any hot summer day in Champaign County — and in much colder times, too. Formerly owned by the Jarling’s family, Custard Cup is so popular that Tom Hanks even tweeted about it when it went up for sale in 2015. Lines are often out the door June through August with the drive through sometimes backed up into the street.

The entrance to Jarling’s Custard Cup with people lined up out the door in coats. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Don’t let the popularity dissuade you, though. Jarling’s Custard Cup has large ice cream containers and custard pies to make your trip worth it. Even the longest line at Custard Cup moves quickly thanks to the efficiency of the staff. If you’re allergic to eggs, don’t worry because the custard as Jarling’s Custard Cup does not contain eggs.

For my review, I tried to sample a variety of different desserts to give people a good idea of what Jarling’s offers. While I kept my desserts to the small/junior size, Custard Cup offers a wide variety of sizes to choose from, so take time at the counter choosing the size you want from their visual examples of each size.

Cups showing the four sundae (one to five) and other treat (12 ounces to 32 ounces) sizes. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

To start, I tried a junior-sized cold fudge shake ($4.15).

Cold fudge shake with a spoon and straw sticking out of it. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Cold fudge is a signature of Jarling’s Custard Cup. It’s essentially a version of hot fudge that is more of a liquid at room temperature than hot fudge typically is. I also find it richer than hot fudge, myself. Jarling’s shakes are nice and smooth without ice chunks in them — and this version made with cold fudge custard was no exception. Served with a spoon and a straw, you’ll likely start with the spoon and transition to the straw as the custard begins to melt. This was a great mess-free choice.

Heath snowstorm with small Heath pieces visible mixed-in. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For something more complex, I asked for a junior Heath snowstorm with pecans ($4.55 since it was 50 cents off for a weekly special). I also had the opportunity to swap out the typical vanilla custard for the rare butter pecan flavor since it was the flavor of the week. The rich, buttery custard was a real treat when combined with the crunchy pecans and chocolate toffee chunks of Heath bar. If you like the snowstorms at Jarling’s Custard Cup, don’t forget to ask for the snowstorm loyalty card. If you buy nine snowstorms, you get one junior snowstorm free.

Chocolate crackle sundae in a small cup with peanut butter underneath the crackle layer. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Moving onto their sundae menu, I tried a small crackle sundae ($4.70) with peanut butter. This is one of my favorites. The hard chocolate shell gave way under my spoon to the soft ice cream and gooey peanut butter underneath. It was a wonderfully dense treat in a small package and a combination I recommend for all the chocolate and peanut butter lovers out there.

Black and white sundae covered in half cold fudge and half marshmallow sauce. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For a sundae that I feel doesn’t get ordered enough (despite how interesting it is), I tried a small black and white sundae ($4.70). A cup of vanilla custard, this sundae was covered half in Jarling’s signature cold fudge and half with marshmallow sauce. Since both toppings were very thick, this sundae was richer than first appearances indicate. The chocolate and marshmallow combined wonderfully in this sundae for something better than either topping separately. I highly recommend this sundae for anyone who wants a simple but surprisingly decadent treat. 

While I didn’t order one, Jarling’s Custard Cup also makes soda floats with their ice cream. Though I don’t drink soda myself, I’ve heard good things from those who’ve had them.

A menu at Jarling’s showing the toppings, mix-ins, and recommended snowstorms. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

The possible combinations are almost endless at Jarling’s Custard Cup, so next time you’re there, give something new a try. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the custard flavor of the week, as you may just find a new favorite.

Menu showing snowstorm, novelty, and other treat prices. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Jarling’s Custard Cup
309 W Kirby Ave
Su+M 3 to 10 p.m.
W+Th 3 to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 3 to 11 p.m.

Top image by Matthew Macomber.

More Articles