My name is Malcolm and I’m an ice cream addict. During summer and fall I’m often able to sate my needs with homemade product made from a recipe in the 1941 edition of America’s Cook Book given to my mother as a wedding present by her maternal grandmother. Page 716 gives the short, sweet instructions for “Philadelphia Ice Cream”: Heat a quart of light cream (I mix a pint of heavy cream with a pint of whole milk) until lukewarm then add a cup of sugar, a dash of salt, and two teaspoons vanilla, stirring until dissolved. That’s fine if you want vanilla ice cream, but I often add blackberries or blueberries or some other fresh fruit (berries need to be ground through a Foley Mill or you’ll end up with a literally seedy ice cream). The mixture should be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer for a short time while you ready crushed ice and rock salt for the ice cream mixer. Until recent years I used a hand cranked device much like Great-Grandma’s.
When you’ve been raised on the homemade good stuff, even an ice cream addict won’t settle for just any “fix.” Once upon a time (1928) Joseph Edy and William Dreyer went into business in Oakland making Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. The product was “grand,” but the name derived from their company’s address on Grand Avenue. Aficionadas (PC for addict) know Dreyer and Edy as the inventors of Rocky Road ice cream. Oh, yum! Mr. Edy’s wife’s sewing scissors were used to cut the marshmallows down to bite size (Miniature marshmallows are a post World War Two invention). When I attended first, second, and third grade at Whittier Elementary in Berkeley a fledgling addict could sometimes con his mother into a side trip down Grand Avenue to the Dreyer’s factory.
Alas, corporatization has diminished the product and taste of Dreyer’s. After the company went public with stock shares in 1981 Dreyer’s switched the brand of vanilla used in the ice cream. In 2002 Dreyer’s was acquired by the Nestle Corporation. Two years later they changed the churning process. Even an addict has standards. No more Dreyer’s. I’ve sworn off Breyer’s as well. Breyer’s started as an independent company in Philadelphia in the 1860s. For more than a century it was made with truly natural ingredients, even after being purchased by Kraft Foods. However, Unilever got hold of the brand in 1993. By 2006 Unilever scrapped the all-natural ingredients in favor of cost-cutting additives, which has distinctly changed its flavor and taste, not for the better.
Haagen-Dazs was once delivered on horse drawn wagons in the south Bronx. It used no emulsifiers or stabilizers other than egg yolks. High butter fat content was the “secret sauce” that kept customers coming back. Sadly, Haagen-Dazs (made up name, with no meaning in any language) is now a subsidiary of Nestle. Nestle is the world’s most profitable corporation. Many sources have alleged a long list of poor practices by Nestle, including the use of child slave labor in the production of cocoa beans in the Ivory Coast.
If you, too, have a little problem with ice cream, but want the truly good stuff may I suggest Alden’s ice cream. It’s produced in Eugene, Oregon from all organic ingredients and is the closest thing to homemade you’ll find in stores. On the Mendocino coast it can be obtained at Purity and Harvest Market; inland at Ukiah Natural Foods and Mariposa Market in Willits.
Gotta go: ICA (Ice Cream Anonymous) meeting in five minutes.