Monday, February 2, 2015

On an Amazingly Cold Day, February 1, 2015, Wilbo Contemplates High End Ice Cream Treats

Park Dairy on the Main Street in Ludington has made ice cream near the beach for decades. I'm seeing a date of 1936 on an antique calendar. We all know the place by the more popular franchise name, House of Flavors. There's even a Life magazine photograph of youngsters shooting straw wrappers to stick on the ceiling of the dairy from 1952 or so, including a kid named Todd Reed. Someone's got to ask him, Stacy Niedzwiecki.

Next to the restaurant, a factory makes around twenty-five million gallons of ice cream, much sold under private labels throughout Michigan. What is cool is the House of Flavors brags about a beloved Muskegon County brand, the Ice Box Brand of Ice Cream novelties. Made in Whitehall, for now, I've heard these are the recipes of an enterprising chef who still works part time at Chili's in Norton Shores. And I am waiting for you dear reader to shout out the name. It is a pleasing story to remember the signature Ice Cream Cooler showing up at the tap room of those entrepreneurial upstarts, the Pigeon Hill Brewery Gang. Who would have thought of an ice cream treat that cost the same as a pint of Muskegon microbrew?

Then Wasserman's Floral follows up their Muskegon County Cash Mob event with a floral shop remodel, adding a coffee shop to that spectacular Lake Muskegon bluff location in Pinchtown - Nims. Then, driving by on Laketon, I notice Wasserman's putting out a shingle for Ice Box Brands, purveyed from a portable ice box that one just has to plug into a socket. 

Muskegon County has venture capitalists, although I haven't heard too much about their fully invested portfolio. Contacts in Grand Rapids give me a dribble of news every now and then as the Muskegon Angels and the Muskegon Inventors Network are not known to talk. Contrast that to StartGarden, Rick DeVos' fifteen million dollar fund that broadcasts, narrowcasting through social media, all investments and even invites small people like myself in for cocktails and reviews once a month. 

So, plenty of money for ice cream investments awaits in Mason County and Grand Rapids, right? How does one keep a culinary brand genius in Muskegon County? Do we have a local Wolfgang Puck on our hands, Puck being perhaps the first multimillionaire chef. Maybe bankroll our local Puck for a signature restaurant on Western, maybe part of the new hotel and conference center to come?

Or maybe I'm overdosing this afternoon on vanilla.

Will Juntunen

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