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

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.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Fading Philadelphia Finds Sanctuary In <em>Sacred Lands</em>

Fading Philadelphia Finds Sanctuary In Sacred Lands

March 22, 2018  |  Vantage

Artist Drew Leshko traces the history of Fishtown through architectural miniatures in his new exhibition > more

In Sharswood, Effort To Save Dox Thrash House Gains Momentum

In Sharswood, Effort To Save Dox Thrash House Gains Momentum

March 20, 2018  |  News

As modern urban renewal continues to erase African-American history in North Philly, one group works against the odds to preserve a renowned Philadelphia artist's legacy. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the story > more

New 40th Street Trolley Portal Design Dull On Arrival

New 40th Street Trolley Portal Design Dull On Arrival

March 19, 2018  |  Vantage

University City District's beautification of the 40th Street Trolley Portal was high on concept, but appears to have fumbled on delivery. Contributor Ann de Forest has the full review > more

Confusion And Quibbling At Mayor's Preservation Task Force Meeting

Confusion And Quibbling At Mayor’s Preservation Task Force Meeting

March 15, 2018  |  News

Mayor Kenney's Historic Preservation Task Force convened today following the release of a draft of a summary of summaries on the state of preservation in Philadelphia. Logistical bickering and sticker activities ensued. Starr Herr-Cardillo reports > more

Remembering Philly's 1967 School Walkout & The Attack On Teen Activism

Remembering Philly’s 1967 School Walkout & The Attack On Teen Activism

March 13, 2018  |  Vantage

On the eve of the national student walkout honoring the victims of the Parkland shooting, Michael Bixler takes a look back at November 17, 1967 when teenage activists demonstrating for equal rights became the target of a violent police attack > more

Oscar's Tavern Still Parties Like It's 1972

Oscar’s Tavern Still Parties Like It’s 1972

March 12, 2018  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow saddles up to the bar at Oscar's Tavern where the spirit of "Old Philadelphia" is as effervescent as their lagers > more