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
Wary Neighbors Keep A Watchful Eye On Threatened Kenworthy House

Wary Neighbors Keep A Watchful Eye On Threatened Kenworthy House

October 1, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Developer received stop-work order from L&I, a slow year in Center City office space deals, 13th & South development news, and Rodin Square construction begins today > more

My Favorite Place: Carman Garden Skating Rink

My Favorite Place: Carman Garden Skating Rink

September 30, 2014  |  My Favorite Place

Take a peek inside Carmen Gardens, where we'll be celebrating the Hidden City Daily's third anniversary this Friday, October 3rd > more

Demolition of Fishtown’s St. Laurentius More And More Likely

Demolition of Fishtown’s St. Laurentius More And More Likely

September 30, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Chaput decertifies Polish church, how to connect The Circuit, residences coming to 36th & Market Science Center project, and City Council reportedly mulling over selling PGW > more

The Legend Of Midtown Village

The Legend Of Midtown Village

September 29, 2014  |  The Shadow Knows

Chemistry labs, karate, puppet theater, and a prostitution ring? The Shadow strikes again! This week we hear about the Guilded Age real estate mogul Felix Isman and his bay-windowed beauty at 13th and Sansom > more

A Councilman And An Army Of Volunteers Clean Up The Delaware Riverbank

A Councilman And An Army Of Volunteers Clean Up The Delaware Riverbank

September 29, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Over three tons removed from Delaware River, scaffolding goes up around Lit Bros., a petition for better development at Clark Park, and four new homes in Roxborough > more

National Liberty Museum Hopes To Inspire An Appreciation For Freedom

National Liberty Museum Hopes To Inspire An Appreciation For Freedom

September 26, 2014  |  Morning Blend

The National Liberty Museum updates its exhibitions, AAA claims vested rights for Pennsport project, Google to drop “Temple Town” designation, and some surprise storm water management work next to Dickinson Square Park > more