The line at À La Mode on 55th Street in O.C. tends to stretch around the building. But it goes quick — you’ve never seen an ice-cream operation run so much like a Scandinavian railroad — and the hot waffles with vanilla ice cream will have you happily jettisoning your diet. In Avalon, it’s the Avalon Freeze, the 1950s (soft) ice cream and yogurt stand, for a vanilla-chocolate twisty, or an Avalon Freezer, with Snickers. The Margate Dairy Bar is another ’50s throwback, with aqua awning and yellow neon. It looks like Sandy and Danny are going to show up and ask for a banana split to share. (They won’t, but you should.) And though we shed tears when Cape May’s Seaside Sweets closed, forever depriving us of its chocolate-covered potato chips, we thank our lucky stars that Dry Dock and Margie D’s made it through another year, for the hot fudge sundaes with wet nuts from the former, and the extra-thick malteds from the latter. Brigantine’s a boon for lovers of frozen treats, too, with Aunt B’s twists and gelato milkshakes and Tony’s Shakes & Steaks’ too-thick-to-use-a-straw shakes. Marita’s in Sea Isle City is all about the homemade hand-whipped ice cream, while Beach Haven’s 31-year-old Skipper Dipper (above) is the spot for exotic soft-serve flavors (amaretto!) and hard yogurt. And Springer’s in Stone Harbor — well, everybody knows that if you have but one cone all summer, you’d best make it one of Springer’s homemade scoops. Try the peanut butter cup. (Á La Mode, 301 East 55th Street, Ocean City, 609-398-2207; Avalon Freeze, 23rd Street and Dune Drive, Avalon, 609-967-4141; Margate Dairy Bar, 9510 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-9559; Dry Dock 1440 Texas Avenue, Cape May, 609-884-3434; Margie D’s Della’s, 5&10, 501-503 Washington Street, Cape May, 609-884-4568; Aunt B’s 3307 West Brigantine Avenue, Brigantine, 609-266-1600; Tony’s Shakes & Steaks, 3107 Atlantic Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine, 609-266-2665; Marita’s, 5912 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, 609-263-6800; Skipper Dipper, 9305 Long Beach Boulevard, Beach Haven, 609-492-9680; Springer’s, 9420 3rd Avenue, Stone Harbor, 609-368-4631)
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