Nostalgic Treats: Borden Ice Cream Shop

Mammoth water coaster

Nostalgia surrounds a quaint yet bustling Norma Jean’s Ice Cream.

Colorful chairs for children and adults line Muddy Fork, a small creek winding through Borden. Trees, moving water and picnic tables provide a picturesque backdrop for those passing through and most often, people seeking a sense of community.

Norma Jean’s has all the throwback feels, from the friendly staff to the opportunity to indulge in a guilty pleasure, ice cream.

The 2021 season marks the sixth for Norma Jean’s owners, Susan and Steve Williams.

“I was born in Borden and most of my family graduated from Borden (High School). I’ve lived here all my life and my husband moved here when he was 10. We love it because of the small-town community feel. I couldn’t imagine living in a city.” – Susan Williams

“I was born in Borden and most of my family graduated from Borden (High School),” said Susan. “I’ve lived here all my life and my husband moved here when he was 10. We love it because of the small-town community feel. I couldn’t imagine living in a city.”

The booming popularity of Norma Jean’s Ice Cream, located off IN 60 between New Albany and Salem, has steadily grown in a short time.

“I love ice cream,” admitted Susan. “My grandmother was Norma Jean and my sister who passed away to cancer had the middle name Jean, so we knew we’d use the name Jean when we opened.”

Borden natives who order the Hot Fudge Cake could feel like they’re going back in time. Norma Jean ran Village Pizza in Borden (where the Buckboard Diner is currently located) and served up the sweet treat, which has become the signature item on the menu.

The Hot Fudge Cake features vanilla soft serve ice cream sandwiched between a pair of freshly made slices of devil’s food cake topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and a bright red cherry.

The Hot Fudge Cake features vanilla soft serve ice cream sandwiched between a pair of freshly made slices of devil’s food cake topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and a bright red cherry.

“We also offer nostalgia food,” said Susan. “We have mini sliders, which we make fresh and our own chili coney sauce is made daily.”

One of the most common phrases the staff hears is, “I had a place like this growing up.”

“We continue to be amazed by the friendships we’ve made, the kids we’ve gotten to know. They are like family. It’s more than just a little business to us.”

“We continue to be amazed by the friendships we’ve made, the kids we’ve gotten to know. They are like family. It’s more than just a little business to us.”

It’s hard not to find a favorite on the food menu. Last season, 20,000 sliders were served. Onion rings are a hit along with the chili cheese fries. For good measure, the foot-long chili cheese dog offers 12 inches of pure summertime flavor.

A sign on the front of the building reads, “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream.” This is where Norma Jean’s pleases many.

“Milkshakes are one of our most popular items along with our hand-dipped ice cream,” said Susan.

Brought in from Madison, Wisconsin, the hand-dipped options are so appealing from menu descriptions, they guarantee a return trip to test more flavors. Just reading each option leaves tongues to the pavement and eyebrows heightened.

The Fat Elvis combines banana, peanut butter and chocolate chips while the Salted Carmel Extreme mixes salted caramel ice cream with sea salt fudge and cashews.

The Fat Elvis combines banana, peanut butter and chocolate chips while the Salted Carmel Extreme mixes salted caramel ice cream with sea salt fudge and cashews. Other options include the Ultimate Oreo (a boatload of Oreos), Mint Avalanche (loaded with Andes Chocolate Mints and Grasshopper cookies), Coconut Almond Bliss (chocolate and almonds in coconut flavors) and more. They’ll occasionally add seasonal options, with many customers eagerly awaiting the return of Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate Cherry Bomb and Bourbon Pecan flavored ice cream.

“We went with a premium ice cream,” said Susan. “We have people who come from Jeffersonville, New Albany and Washington County who specifically want these hand-dipped flavors.”

Ice cream comes served in a traditional cone, waffle cone or cup. They also offer soft-serve (and they can dip that, too) ice cream plus malts, floats, sundaes, tornadoes and the classic banana split.

Success goes beyond business results for the Williams family.

“It’s like a ministry for us.  When we opened, we had no idea it would get this big and it keeps growing. … For us, we love the business side. To work as hard as our staff does, you obviously hope to make money, but it has afforded us the opportunity to help other people when they are in need.” – Susan Williams

“It’s like a ministry for us,” Susan said. “When we opened, we had no idea it would get this big and it keeps growing. … For us, we love the business side. To work as hard as our staff does, you obviously hope to make money, but it has afforded us the opportunity to help other people when they are in need.”

Over the six seasons, the Williamses have given back to local support groups and schools and set up fundraiser opportunities. They are providing great on-the-job learning experiences for employees who come from local schools like Borden, Eastern, Salem and Floyd Central.

Susan and Steve pour their hearts into the business, and Steve continues to work full time outside of Norma Jean’s. Having been around food service before, Susan knew she’d eventually come back to it after working in the legal industry.

“We watched and waited for close to two years before we found the property where we are at,” she said. “I knew at an early age that I wanted to be in the food industry. It’s been a flurry. Truly unreal.”

There is a lot of love and scoops that make the business successful.

“We are so thankful and blessed by the staff that has passed through our shop over the past five years,” Susan said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them!”

Norma Jean’s is open during the week from 3 to 8 p.m. and open Saturday and Sunday for lunch through 8 p.m. They offer drive-thru and walk-up service and plenty of space to unwind near the creek.

“The creek, the trees out back, the chairs and the tables; it’s quite a nice little spot to enjoy with families,” said Susan.Plus, a tasty chili dog complimented by a milkshake checks off the pleasure zones. •

Norma Jean’s Ice Cream Shop is located at 302 E. Water Street, Borden, IN 47106.

Story and Photos Brian Smith

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