Despite the fact that it's cold outside, I wake up in the middle of the night a lot these days thinking about frozen custard. That's because I'm co-authoring a book about this delicacy at the moment and it's consuming me even more than I consume custard, which is saying something.
Everyone's first question when they hear about the project is: which is your favorite stand?
I'm an equally opportunity fan of custard.
Leon's? You bet.
Kopp's? Oh yes.
Gilles? Most certainly.
But also Oscar's, and Pop's in Menomonee Falls, and Out & Out in Cedarburg, and Shirl's in Kenosha, and Mickey's in Hartford, and Georgie Porgie's in Oak Creek or Mount Pleasant (though they have Custard King machine at the latter), and Murph's in Brookfield, and Toucan in West Bend.
I rarely get custard and am disappointed by it. Make that never, really. (I do admit, however, that I have a special fondness for Gilles' in Fond du Lac, which I've been to exactly once and which still has carhops, an amazing old stand with a neon-lit awning and great custard.)
But, other than my desire to eat it, I never really thought that much about custard in the past. I just ordered it, ate it and wanted more.
Now, whenever I walk into a place the first thing I do is look at the machine. I can spot a Carvel Custard King from 100 paces, even if the decorative crown-shaped nameplate has been removed. On a recent trip to Florida, I saw a listing for a custard place and wondered not what the flavor of the day was, but rather, "do they use a custard machine or are they running mix through a soft-serve machine?" (You'll have to wait for the book, due out by summer, for a deeper discussion of the science of that.)
Despite my newfound knowledge of butterfat levels for custard versus ice cream versus soft-serve and my ability to sound like I know what I'm talking about when discussing where the early Clark's Frozen Custard locations were in Milwaukee or how many stands Frozen Custard Inc. operated at the 1933 A Cen…Read more...