Andreae Prozesky give us the scoop on the Emperors of Ice Cream: the folks at Moo Moo’s Dairy Bar.
I ask one of the servers at Moo Moo’s Dairy Bar on King’s Road, “Do you remember the name of the chicken and ribs place where Moo Moo’s used to be?” Naturally, she looks at me like I’m… a grown-up. “You know… it was something-something Chicken ‘n’ Ribs and Moo Moo’s Dairy Bar.”
“When was that?” she asks.
“Oh… I don’t know… about twenty years ago?”
Suddenly I realize that a) I am talking to a sixteen-year-old, who could not possibly know this, and b) teenagers can tell that I’m not one of them.
I’m not sure why being recognized as a grown-up hurts, but it does. Like my coolness factor dropped down to 2 after the mid-grunge-era.
But ice cream heals many (if not all) wounds, including being reminded that you’re not actually as young and cool you think you are.
Moo Moo’s ice cream is about the best ice cream around: it has been since it started out in the back section of The Market, the part closest to Bishop Feild School (where I was a student), in January of 1989, as an add-on to Mountain Boy Chicken ‘n’ Ribs. Those of us who were really cool got notes from our parents so that we could leave the school grounds on Fridays and eat chicken and fries and soft-serve in the park.
Mountain Boy came and went, but Moo Moo’s has gone on to absolutely own the downtown frozen-treat scene. The dairy bar moved to the front of the Market building in 1990, and has been sporting its white-with-black-spots paint job since 1994. All of their hard ice cream is made on-site in the lower part of the building, from Lisa Ryan’s collection of recipes.
And how many recipes does she have? “About six or seven hundred,” she tells me, but only eighty or ninety of those emerge over the course of a summer. “There’s been no Banana Flambé this summer,” she says. But plenty of Turtle Cheesecake, Moo Moo’s best seller.
Banana Split is popular, too, as is Tornado (super chocolaty chocolate with fudge, brownies, and great chunks of Mirage bar). Partridgeberry is one of the rarer Moo Moo’s specimens; it’s made with local partridgeberries and is gone as soon as it’s put out. Same goes for blueberry, made with berries from Ryan’s sister’s property. The soft-serve is a huge seller, and even though it’s made from Central Dairies’ standard soft-serve blend, Ryan et al have jigged the soft-serve machine to change the texture. “It’s how we’ve got the machine modified. We got a new machine, and we were getting complaints within a couple of hours.”
Moo Moo’s has the distinction of being equally loved by locals and tourists. Ryan says that a lot of people who come through over the summer are locals who’ve moved away. “They get off the airplane and they come straight here.”
And I can see how they’re hooked. I’ve been eating the Coconut Fudge ice cream as though it were a cure for all my ills (perhaps it is.) I’m starting to wake up thinking about it. I might be in love. That’s it: ice cream makes me feel like a foolish love-struck teenager. Even though it’s clear, at least to sixteen-year-olds, that I’m not one.
– Andreae Prozesky