5 Star Stories: Memphis staple Jerry’s Snow Cones offering sweet treats year-round
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There are few things more “Americana” than having an ice cream or snow cone on a hot summer day. And, of course, Memphis has its own twist on that with Jerry’s Snow Cones, in business now for more than 50 years.
And in that time, it’s been spotted in a scene from the movie, “Great Balls of Fire,” as a fashion photoshoot backdrop for Elvis’ granddaughter, Riley, and visited by the James Beard award-winning TV personality and Chef Andrew Zimmern.
No matter your age, if you’ve lived in Memphis any time at all, you’ve heard of Jerry’s Snow Cones, if you haven’t already slurped one of its 100-plus flavors and thousands of combinations.
The building in the middle of a Berclair neighborhood off Wells Station Road was a Sinclair gas station in the 20s and 30s that served snow cones to the kids’ of customers who were getting their car repaired. In the late 60s, L.B. and Cordia Clifton turned the building into a carwash and snow cone stand, then named it after their son, Jerry.
The current owner, David Acklin, started going there for snow cones while in high school and kept going back.
“And I had an opportunity to work with the older couple over in Berclair at the original location,” said Acklin. “And I just enjoyed spending time with them. So, I’d stop in after my job and work with them for free. Just a good time! Hey, replacement grandparents after mine had passed away.”
Eventually, running the stand got to be too much for the elderly couple.
“He [L.B. Clifton] called me and said, ‘look man, I can’t handle it anymore. I would really love to just pass the torch.’ You know it was kind of a blessing at that time in my life as well,” recalled Acklin.
That was 17 years ago. Since then, Acklin has added menu items.
“All the burgers are hand-pressed every day. It’s fresh. Hand-cut chicken tenders, breading club crackers, and fried bologna sandwiches. It’s just old-school comfort food at a reasonable price,” said Acklin, who also opened a second location in Cordova on Bonnie Lane about three years ago.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the snow cones, especially, the uniquely “Jerry’s” snow cone supreme.
“Well, I mean, you haven’t had a snow cone until you’ve eaten a Jerry’s Snow Cone. It’s as soft as snow and we layer ice cream inside them, and we have over a hundred flavors,” boasted Acklin.
Fans of Jerry’s span generations, like Lee Weaver who brought his whole family to Jerry’s while Action News 5 were there.
“Woo! Well, I’m 39 so, I’ve probably been coming for about 35 years,” chuckled Weaver, adding, “I’ve never found a better snow cone, like, as far as the mixes of the flavor and the ice. But I think also for Memphians, it’s a cool place where everyone goes to, k kind of like everyone goes to Tiger football games. Everyone goes to Jerry’s, loves Jerry’s.”
Acklin said sometimes, he’ll see three or four generations at one table enjoying the food and snow cones, and meet people at the original location who remember when the place first opened 54 years ago.
“And I’m like, wow,” said Acklin. “That was 50-some years ago. They show me pictures and then they show me their great-grandbabies, and I mean it’s kind of unreal to me. It’s kind of hard to grasp sometimes, but it means a lot and I think that’s special. We care about everybody and love everybody in Memphis and Arkansas, Mississippi and Nashville, all those places, and we’re just going to continue doing that. So, we’re just praying and we’re going keep on truckin’!”
Jerry’s Snow Cones are open six days a week, Monday through Saturday. They now take debit and credit cards as well as cash. For more information about Jerry’s, click here.
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