Melted Away

Photo: Peter Woodall

Breyers Ice Cream wasn’t always just another brand in the portfolio of Unilever, a multi-billion dollar Anglo-Dutch conglomerate. Once the Breyer Ice Cream Co.–no “s”–was a famous Philadelphia product, a source of civic pride, much like Stetson hats. The two companies had factories seven blocks from each other, in North Philadelphia. The Stetson complex is long gone but the Breyer plant at 9th and Cumberland remains, boarded up and vacant. It may be the only trace of the company left in the city.

Photo: Peter Woodall

When Henry Breyer opened his first retail store on Frankford Avenue in 1882, ice cream was synonymous with Philadelphia much like cheesesteaks are today. The famed Breyers Pledge of Purity—milk, cream, sugar, vanilla–nothing more–is the recipe for what was once known as Philadelphia-style ice cream, which didn’t contain eggs, unlike the French style. Clementine Paddleford nails the definition of the Philadelphia style in a 1949 How America Eats column for the LA Times. She writes that it means

“Simon pure—made of the richest ingredients. When American was young and ice cream was “that new dessert.” the very best of it was made by the Quakers. So it was that when anyone anywhere wanted to claim high honor for his ice cream he prefixed it with the name Philadelphia.”
 

View Larger Map

Peter Woodall is the co-editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.



1 Comment


  1. The loss of Bryers was real tragedy for Philly. And Unilever has now completely screwed up the brand, abandoning its pledge of only have recognizable ingredients.

    On the plus side, it’s an opportunity for a new Philly based traditional ice cream company.

Recent Posts
Transforming The Schuylkill

Transforming The Schuylkill

December 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A re-bridging of sorts for the Central Schuylkill, good news for South Philly ship, Liberty Square work begins, and the lax enforcement of condos’ Christmas tree ban > more

Reanimating The Archives At William Way

Reanimating The Archives At William Way

December 17, 2014  |  News

It's been a long journey home for the William Way Community Center and a bumpy ride for their archives. With a William Penn Foundation grant in hand, they will soon have a proper research facility dedicated to local LGBT history. Erin Bernard takes us into their stacks and down the path that led the community center to Spruce Street > more

On The Dangers Of Ad Hoc Interpretations Of The Zoning Code

On The Dangers Of Ad Hoc Interpretations Of The Zoning Code

December 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Just how slippery of a slope are laxer readings of “safety services," Mummers seek a more approachable experience this year, CDC gets $40K reward, and making way for East Market development > more

Trove Of Philly-Centric Books For The Holidays

Trove Of Philly-Centric Books For The Holidays

December 16, 2014  |  Vantage

If you're looking for holiday books with a Philly bent, Nathaniel Popkin has ten new ones--from art to essays to history, biography, and policy--to suit the readers on your list > more

Isaiah Zagar To Preview Magic

Isaiah Zagar To Preview Magic “Cathedral”

December 15, 2014  |  Morning Blend

New mosaic project on Watkins Street, West Philly man to keep art studio, why you ought to visit Glen Foerd, and a singular redevelopment history at 7th & Snyder > more

A North Philly Building's Direct Connection To The Past

A North Philly Building’s Direct Connection To The Past

December 15, 2014  |  The Shadow Knows

You can't keep a good Windrim down. This former Bell building at 17th and Diamond has persevered for over a century, being reused as an undertaker school, Masonic temple, Mennonite church, and community center. We got on the horn with The Shadow to get the scoop on this heavyweight champion of adaptation > more