Ice cream, the practice is worth it
The hot spell we just went through brought back memories of my teen years when I worked at my uncle’s ice cream store. I can remember the long lines of customers waiting in the heat for their ice cream cones, sundaes, and shakes.
My uncle Tom started The Snowman in Troy, New York, in the 1950’s, about the same time that Dairy Mart opened here in Huntley.
I started working for him as a freshman in high school and spent my summers for the next eight years learning the trade. His store was unique. All the ice cream, over 30 flavors of hard (scooped) ice cream, as well as vanilla and chocolate soft ice cream, were made on site at the store. Yes, the vanilla and chocolate twist cone was a novelty then.
He built a tremendous reputation for quality ice cream. I learned a great deal about product quality and customer service from him. I would spend the early morning hours making hard ice cream in the back of the store, take the afternoons to catch a nap, and then return to work in the front of the store selling ice cream in the evenings. On a hot summer night, out both windows of the store you could see 15 or 20 customers waiting in lines to the curb. The flow of customers was constant for five to six hours.
Although the store was sold to owners outside of the family, the quality that originated with uncle Tom stands even today. If you browse the web, you will see comments from customers who travel from great distances to get their Snowman ice cream. They consistently give it high ratings for the quality of the ice cream and the friendly service.
Of course, the prices are a bit higher today. I remember uncle Tom struggling with the decision to raise his price for a small soft twist ice cream cone from twenty cents to a quarter. He would be flabbergasted to know a similar cone today is $1.50 or more. He had to raise prices because the price of the “mix” he bought from the Dairy was going up. The Dairy offered to give him a cheaper brand of mix, but he wouldn’t think of it.
Most folks don’t realize that in order to call a product ice cream, it has to have at least 10 percent butterfat. Dairy Queen, for example, has a “soft serve” product that only has 5 percent butterfat content. At the Snowman, the soft ice cream had 10 percent butterfat and the hard (scooped) ice cream had 12 percent butterfat. The higher butterfat provided a more premium product – a richer, creamier flavor – and was less likely to have ice crystals.
Baskin Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery have richer ice cream, probably around 14 percent butterfat. Ben and Jerry’s had really rich ice cream (about 16 percent) before they sold to investors. Custard at Culver’s is made with about 13 percent butterfat cream, but egg yolks are added to the recipe to make it custard. It has a texture that is more dense than ice cream because it is not whipped as much with air. It doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as ice cream, because it is stored at a warmer temperature, about 20 degrees, versus hard ice cream that can be kept for months at -10 degrees.
Culver’s assures their customers that the custard is made fresh each day. Whether ice cream or custard, hard or soft ice cream, you now know what goes in to the quality of your favorite product and can enjoy all the more that tasty treat to beat the heat – at any price.
Keep those letters coming, folks. Send your questions and ideas to: The Frugal Forum, P.O. Box 693, Huntley, IL 60142, or, by email to: email@example.com.