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
40th Street Trolley Station Fundraising Gets A Boost

40th Street Trolley Station Fundraising Gets A Boost

September 19, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Over half a million for the University City gateway project, Old City building complex to be renamed and rebranded, Saffron’s thoughts on a riverside museum, and FLOW on the Schuylkill > more

Drexel Law School Gets $50 Million, New Center City Building

Drexel Law School Gets $50 Million, New Center City Building

September 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Litigator Thomas R. Kline donates big, Spring Garden Greenway preview this weekend, thoughts on Philly bike politics, and bagels coming to 7th & Walnut > more

Hot Or Not, Part II: A Drive-By Critique

Hot Or Not, Part II: A Drive-By Critique

September 17, 2014  |  Soapbox

New construction in Philadelphia is on fire right now. Perfect timing to feature another episode of "Hot or Not," courtesy of our indespensible drive-by architecture critic Jason Lempieri > more

City Hall Apron To Be Redone

City Hall Apron To Be Redone

September 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Improvements for Dilworth Park’s visual flow, more details on the Bridesburg land swap with Dietz and Watson, Philly Bike Share locations, and a “creative hub” in Brewerytown > more

Dilworth Park, On Balance

Dilworth Park, On Balance

September 16, 2014  |  Soapbox

The new Dilworth Park at City Hall has drawn a considerable amount of criticism since opening last week. Despite a few misgivings, Michael Bixler thinks that there may be a silver lining: inclusive, public appeal > more

Preliminary Plans For Maplewood Mall Presented To Germantown Residents

Preliminary Plans For Maplewood Mall Presented To Germantown Residents

September 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A community meeting unveils early design thoughts for the corridor revitalization, previewing phase 3 of Fishtown’s Icehouse, Penn teams up with Swiss firm for innovative cancer research facility on its campus, and Dranoff musing on the market > more