If you’ve ever braved the lines and made it to the screened window at Westford’s iconic Kimball Farm, chances are you’ve spotted Sam Jacobson. The 21-year-old part-time ice cream scooper has worked at the 79-year-old roadside stand, famous for its gargantuan portions and on-site amusements, for seven years. He’ll serve cones and sundaes until Aug. 22, when he heads back for his senior year at the University of Bridgeport, where he’s majoring in industrial design.
“This is a reliable job, and it’s taught me a lot of life lessons over the years. It’s good to show dedication to an employer,” the Westford native says. “It’s taught me how to interact with different types of people and how to be courteous to everyone.”
Even the hungry, harried masses that line up on humid summer nights, desperate for a sweet treat.
What’s the first restaurant you ever ate at in Boston? The first restaurant I remember would probably be a chain like Bertucci’s. My dad is typically going to those types of places. My go-to is chicken Alfredo.
How has Kimball Farm changed since you started working there? It’s changed dramatically! We’ve added the Soaring Eagle, the Spin Zone, and a few other things. The Soaring Eagle is a take on a zip line. It brings you up backward and drops you down, and you do the zip line in an eagle-carriage-type thing. The Spin Zone is sort of like our bumper boats, but you’re in an environment where you bump into other carts, and at any random time the person running the whole machine can press a spin button and everyone starts spinning. It’s good not to do this after eating ice cream.
What’s your earliest dairy memory that made you think: I want to scoop ice cream? One of my earliest memories didn’t involve me, but it was when my dad actually met my mom. I wasn’t alive at the time, but my dad decided to come here. He’d never been to Kimball’s, and he ordered a large chocolate cone. It just started melting all over him. It was one of the hottest days of the year. This is when they first started dating. When I came around, I remember asking to get a bigger ice cream, like a small, even though my parents knew I would finish half of the kiddie. To this day, I only get a kiddie size.
What’s the worst restaurant experience you’ve ever had? The only bad experience I’ve had was a local 99 Restaurant. My food wasn’t cooked right. I wasn’t excited about it. I sent it back, and it came out wrong again. I ended up ordering something else, then just ate all the fries. The steak was really rare, and then it was very well-done.
Name three adjectives for your ice cream customers. Excited, and some of them could be — well, a lot of the younger customers are sometimes jealous, in a way. They want to be working here, too. I get that a lot. We have a lot of people asking for applications. And very energetic! A lot of people are excited. Kids are running around, and there’s a lot of screaming.
What’s the most overdone flavor trend right now? I’m not a fan of coffee ice cream, but it seems like everyone is ordering coffee Oreo. It’s everyone’s go-to if they’re not getting a sundae, which is usually vanilla ice cream. I’m not a huge coffee person. I like mint Oreo.
What are you reading? I mostly read online articles about design. I actually finished a book a few months ago on Steve Jobs and his design thinking. I forget the author off the top of my head. It came out right after he passed away.
How’s your commute? During the summer, I live with my dad. He lives in Westford, and I commute to work and back to home.
What’s the one flavor you never want to eat again? I was up in Maine with my sister. She’s an ice cream enthusiast. She made me try lobster ice cream, and I will never try it ever again. She didn’t like it, either. I can’t even describe the base of it. There were chunks of lobster in the ice cream, and the texture — it didn’t sit right.
What flavor do you wish existed? One flavor we’ve been trying to make for a while but is hard, with the amount of Oreos we have, is peanut butter ice cream with Oreos in it. I thought that might be an interesting idea. A lot of people have been talking about it. We have a peanut butter base. Some people take Oreos when they get home and mix them into the ice cream. I thought that would be an interesting flavor, but since we make everything here, it’s hard to keep up.
What’s your most missed flavor? My favorite was white chocolate almond. It wasn’t a big seller, but it was my personal favorite.
What’s the weirdest flavor you’ve served? Frozen pudding! It’s a rum-based ice cream with rum-flavored fruits. Kids think it’s a chocolate pudding thing, and they order it, and I explain to parents that it’s not what they think.
What’s the most bizarre order you’ve ever gotten? People don’t know what our banana splits are. They think it’s a flavor of ice cream. One person wanted me to put it into a frappe. They thought it was a flavor and not a sundae.
If you had to eat your last meal in Boston, what would it be? Me and my dad just went to Limoncello in the North End. It was really good food and good service. I had a burger, but it was just the service that was perfect. I’d go there.
What’s the longest wait you’ve ever seen? On those hot summer nights, the lines can go past the first set of cars and into the parking lot. People can’t even park in the first parking lot or get through. Some of them come up, aggravated, but happy to get their ice cream. They say they waited in line for an hour and a half. But they know they want the ice cream, and it’s worth the wait.
Have you ever suffered a scooping injury? The most that really happens is when we’re all running around, and people bump into one another. People might slip a little. But nothing major.
Any flavor recommendations? If you like nuts, my go-to is coconut almond chip. It’s our take on Almond Joy. Or also vanilla blueberry crumble — vanilla ice cream with blueberry sauce in it. That’s a really good flavor. Also, sherbets and sorbets, which are dairy-free. They’re really refreshing on a summer day, more so than ice cream.
What’s the most you’ve ever seen someone eat? This guy would come up to my window and get a quart of chocolate vanilla twist soft-serve. He’d just ask for a spoon. I’m assuming that means he would just go eat the entire thing instead of getting a cover. A quart is our biggest size to-go. It’s a lot of ice cream!
Do people really leave tips in the tip jar? Sometimes we get good tips. It depends on how fast you move through customers, how nice you are, and how you interact. You need to make them feel like you appreciate them as much as they appreciate the ice cream. You need to offer to help them in choosing a flavor, or ask if they want to try a feature one, and be efficient.
Any advice for aspiring ice cream scoopers? It’s not as hard as it seems when you’re somewhere like Kimball’s, but it is fast-paced. You’re always doing something. It can be challenging with hard ice cream to really dig into it and scoop it out.
Who was your most memorable customer? My sister had a customer, not me, and when she came she would order the same thing every time: maple walnut, but she just wanted the maple. She’d ask for the walnuts to be picked out. And while she waited, she’d knit around a clothes hanger. Then she’d go sit down, knit, and bring it back to the window. My sister has four of the five she made. It was a nice gesture. A few years later, I had this customer. She didn’t decide to knit me something.
Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.