It’s about the time of year when the breeze starts to get cooler, midterms creep up right around the corner, you realize summer is over and, let’s face it, your seasonal depression is starting to kick in. Take a break from your studying and indulge in one of the best places for comfort food on our campus, The Cold Stone Creamery.

You might be thinking, why would I want ice cream when I just unpacked my box of sweatshirts to keep warm? Trust me, you want it.

Based in Scottsdale, AZ, the Cold Stone franchise was started in 1995 by founders Donald and Susan Sutherland. An extremely successful venture, there are currently 425-plus shops all over the country and more are opening all of the time. Its success is not a surprise, and the new Madison store has been busy since opening in late August.

Entering the shop, I was overcome by the wafting aroma of freshly made waffle cones. I stood in a line that proceeded out the door, but it moved fairly quickly and gave me time to look at the menu displayed on the wall and survey what lay ahead.

The Cold Stone Creamery is not a typical ice cream shop, where your hardest decision is between Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookies and Cream. Cold Stone offers about 16 flavors of ice cream and 36 different types of candies, nuts, fruits and baked goods to ‘mix-in’ your ice cream. The options and possibilities are endless, and customers can choose from one of 30 Cold Stone Originals or customize their own concoction.

I ordered the “Apple Pie A La Cold Stone,” which began with a cheery employee scooping a ball of sweet cream ice cream and then putting it on a granite surface refrigerated from underneath (the Cold Stone). My scooper added cinnamon, graham cracker pie crust, apple pie filling, caramel and nuts to my ice cream and welded it together with metal spades. My ice cream was smooth, creamy and topped with whipped cream. It tasted just as good as mom’s apple pie — a true American classic.

My group sampled the “Cookie Doughn’t You Want Some” which consists of French vanilla ice cream with pieces of cookie dough, chocolate chips, fudge and caramel. This is the perfect dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you are looking for an alternative to the 450 calories and 25 grams of fat found in the regular ice cream, Cold Stone offers a Sweet Cream yogurt that is fat-free but still tastes great with mix-ins.

Some of our other favorites were “Strawberry Shortcake,” “Cheesecake Fantasy,” “Oreo Overload” and “Birthday Cake Remix.” The creative names of the dishes mirror the exciting feeling the creamery creates. But the fun is not limited to the customers; employees find Cold Stone to be a “friendly working environment that creates a unique ice cream experience for our customers,” said Cold Stone employee, Monica Cassman.

The ice cream crew frequently bursts into song, especially when they have been tipped. It is clear that the employees are enjoying themselves, and their excitement permeates the room, which creates an entertaining dessert. However, plan on taking your ice cream creation home with you or for a stroll down State Street since seating is limited to only four small round tables.

The create-your-own ice cream is priced at $2.99 for the small size, $3.29 for the medium and $3.59 for the large. Your first mix in is free and each additional mix in is available for a small fee. Also on the menu are shakes and malts ($3.49), take-home quarts and a variety of different waffle cones and bowls.

If you cannot find what you are looking for at the Cold Stone Creamery, you will not be able to find it anywhere else in Madison. Get rid of those mid-semester blues and have fun creating your own specialized smooth and creamy dessert, just the way your heart desires. I promise a tasty experience. Until next week, happy dining!