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Frozen custard is not ordinary ice cream

I want some frozen custard ice cream, preferably chocolate.

Maybe it is me being sentimental because I grew up in Madison, Wis. Located right down the street from our family business was a drive-in that had vanilla and chocolate frozen custard. Hence my love affair with custard began.

If you have never had this delightful dessert, you are in for a treat when you try it. First, there is frozen custard and baked custard. They are not the same thing. Frozen custard is sort of like soft-serve ice cream, but better.

Let me tell you about it and what makes it so good. It is the higher percentage of butterfat and egg yolks which give it a thick, creamy texture and a smoother consistency than ice cream. Frozen custard is made in a special machine with a freezing chamber. Frozen custard is immediately pushed out of the freezing chamber, which gives it a much lower air content than that of ice cream. It is served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream and is usually made daily. I remember being able to order standard flavors like vanilla and chocolate and a special flavor of the day.

At The Chicago World’s Fair, held 1933-34, frozen custard was introduced to a wider audience. Within a few years after the end of the fair, frozen custard became popular throughout the Midwest. By the mid-1950s Milwaukee, Wis. became known as the “unofficial frozen custard capital of the world.”

I moved to Milwaukee with my son Jeremiah in the late 1970s. It was here I introduced him to frozen custard. Remember the sitcom “Happy Days”? It had a custard shop called Arnold’s Drive-In, modeled after Leon’s Custard Stand located in South Milwaukee.

We went there to check it out, and from the car we could see the house with the most “yard art” in South Milwaukee. We drove by Pinkie’s Bowling Alley on the way home.

When I lived in Milwaukee, there was a yearly competition to see which custard stand was the best in the city. The competition was between Kopp’s Frozen Custard, Gilles Frozen Custard and Leon’s Frozen Custard and other lesser-known shops. It was held in January, and if I remember correctly, it was called Custard’s Last Stand. The annual winner won the traveling trophy and sign from the previous year’s winner. Both items were then placed in the front window for all to see. It sure increased their business that year.

There used to be a frozen custard place called Dewey’s Frozen Custard in Lake Oswego. I loved that place. Too bad it closed, but I have found some others in the vicinity that I can investigate.

My friend Ann lives in Vancouver, Wash. I had heard about Sheridan’s Frozen Custard and asked her if the next time I came to visit if we could go there. She was game, and now, we have started a new tradition. We were there last week and she said, “I’m really glad we are doing this.” Me too.

This past Memorial Day, I invited my friend Jennifer to go for a ride in the country to Jac’s Deli and Frozen Custard in Newberg. We found the place, but it was closed for the holiday. So it’s still on my list.

Before the end of fall, I am planning to check out two more frozen custard places in Oregon. In a newspaper, I read about Custard King, located in Astoria. The other one is J Gelato Italian Ice & Frozen Custard in Milwaukie.

When I went to the Jottings meeting this past June, member Roy Houston told the group that he went down to Newberg for some frozen custard. Another comrade in arms!

Kathryn Kendall is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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