Celebrating Cincinnati Cuisine #2 Graeter’s Ice Cream

In celebration of the Cincinnati Bengals returning to the Super Bowl after an absence of more than three decades, I will post a unique Queen City Flavor Experience each day until the big day. Many regions of this country developed food or drink preferences that have withstood the national big brands swamping America with their saturated marketing and bland sameness. I grew up in and around Cincinnati and all of these brands stuck with me as I traveled far and wide to live in other places. If you’ve never lived in or traveled through Cincinnati, these brands may surprise you and some people, on first taste, don’t fall in love with them. But to me, they are the flavors of my youth and I love them dearly. Let me explain…

Graeter’s Ice Cream is the likeliest way you may have encountered Cincinnati Cuisine as it is now sold nationally in select grocery stores due in no small part to Oprah Winfrey proclaiming it “absolutely the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.” It harkens way back to Louis Charles Graeter who started selling ice cream from two carts in Cincinnati. It is still owned and managed by his descendants. In the early 20th century most ice cream manufacturers switched to new, cheaper, but lower quality ways of mechanized ice cream makers. But Graeter’s continued their commitment to the old fashioned method called “French Pot.” It only makes two and a half gallons per batch and is very labor intensive. Though they have modernized the process with new machines, it still makes small-batch, hand-made ice cream. They have a video of the process on the website, which you should visit and explore.


Over the years they added a wonderful bakery to their stores and invented a method to create amazing chips (chunks really) by pouring melted chocolate into their French Pots. Their chocolate chip selections are VERY popular and absolutely delicious. Besides their collection of standard flavors, they offer limited seasonal flavors which are a treat that you must buy quickly before they are snatched up. They are all delicious but my favorite is a special combo. Cinnamon Ice Cream is good and only made in October and November. Pro Tip: Buy some in those months and set it aside. When the Egg Nog Ice Cream is offered in December, put 3 or 4 parts Egg Nog Ice Cream in a bowl with 1 part Cinnamon Ice Cream. Sample the ice creams in that proportion together and get a little bite of Ice Cream Heaven. Here is what I have in my freezer, which will soon all be gone.

As always you can find more at www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

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