Steve's Ice Cream

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Steve's Ice Cream depicted in Dan Mazur's "Seafood Sundae" from Leftovers of the Living Dead (Fat Cat Funnies, 2010).

Steve's Ice Cream was an ice-cream parlor chain which attracted media attention and long lines when owner Steve Herrell opened his first establishment at 191 Elm Street in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1973. It introduced the concept of super-premium ice cream and customized ice cream desserts using the mix-in. MSNBC travel/leisure journalist Tom Austin credits Herrell for this innovative milestone in the ice cream industry: "Modern gourmet ice cream is widely considered to have been born at the original Steve’s in Boston."[1]

While the company is no longer in business, its business concepts spawned other chains, such as Cold Stone Creamery and Amy's Ice Creams, and well-known products, including the Dairy Queen Blizzard and Wendy's Twisted Frosty product lines.[2]

History[edit]

When Steve Herrell founded Steve's Ice Cream in 1973, he mechanically altered a small batch commercial freezer to produce an extraordinarily rich, creamy, low-air ice cream.[3] Herrell was introduced to the Heath Bar candy bar by a friend in the late 1960s and felt it would make an excellent addition to ice cream. When he opened his first store, instead of having pre-mixed flavors like chocolate chip, he had his staff mix freshly made ice cream with candy or other confections based upon customer requests. These candy additions were called mix-ins, and the custom-blended flavors proved to be highly desired by the customer. Steve sold out of ice cream on his first day, and the store became very popular in a short time.[3][4][5]

The prices in 1975 were $.35 and $.55 for cones with an additional $.10 for each "mix-in" of M&M's, Heath bars and others. A fruit mix-in was another $.10. Sundaes were $.75 and $1.25, banana splits were $1.75 and egg creams were $.40.

In 1977, Herrell sold his company for $80,000 to Joe Crugnale, the future founder of the Bertucci's restaurant chain. The company was again sold in 1983. For several years the chain was co-located with the D'Angelos sub chain until D'angelo's was purchased by Yum! Brands in 1993 and Steve's was replaced in favor of Pizza Hut. The company closed in the late 1990s.[6]

Discord arose in the late 1980s between franchise owners and Steve’s corporate office when Steve’s began selling pre-packaged ice cream in various grocery stores. Franchise owners were disgruntled that the corporate offices were luring customers away from their local ice cream shops. In addition, they argued that the sale of prepackaged ice cream bearing the “Steve’s” name was inconsistent with the concept that Steve’s was a premium hand-made ice cream. In response, some franchise owners refused to continue paying franchise fees. Ultimately, a number of franchises were forced to go out of business, which likely contributed to the company’s demise.[7]

Industry impact[edit]

The popularity of the Heath Bar smoosh-in, created by Steve's and utilized by later chains, prompted the Heath company to expand its operation to include a commercial foods division.[4] Later chains took concept of the smoosh-in and applied it to their operations, creating a whole new industry around it. Because Herrell trademarked the term smoosh-in, most chains refer to the term as mix-in in industry terminology.[7]

Additionally, the name inspired computer programmers to name a function found in object-oriented programming language a Mixin.[8] Inspired by the concept of using a basic flavor of ice cream and blending in a combination of extra items, the programmers applied the term to small sets of pre-written computer code that was mixed into the main core of a larger program.[9] Mixins first appeared in the MIT Lisp Machine object-oriented Flavors system, which was an approach to object-orientation used in Lisp Machine Lisp.

Revival[edit]

In 2009, the Steve's Ice Cream brand was acquired by David Stein, one of the original employees at Steve's Ice Cream in Somerville. The new Brooklyn-based Steve's Ice Cream was launched in 2011 with the distribution of packaged ice cream, plus stores located in Manhattan and Brooklyn.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Austin, Tom. "America's best ice cream shops", MSNBC, July 5, 2009.
  2. ^ Bruce Mohl (2004-05-23). "The scoop on Boston's ice cream war". Article. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-12-21. "Their Coldstone Creamery stores feature ice cream made fresh on the premises each day and frozen stone slabs where the ice cream is mixed with candy, nuts, and other mix-ins, a concept popularized in Somerville in the 1970s by Steve Herrell at the original Steve's Ice Cream." 
  3. ^ a b Herrell, Steve. "History of Herrell's" 26 May 26, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Eric Asimov (1987-08-27). "Heath Bar finds its Metier:Ice Cream". the New York Times. "Steve Herrell didn't know a Heath bar from a hole in a doughnut until a friend gave him one in the late 1960s. But when he tasted the milk-chocolate-covered bar of crunchy toffee, he recalled, he had a single, all-penetrating inspiration: This would be great with ice cream!" 
  5. ^ Andrea Pyenson (2001-08-16). "Recalling a luscious loss of innocence" (Subscription required). Column. p. H7. Retrieved 2007-12-22. "He picked me up, and we eagerly negotiated our way through the back streets of Somerville, until we arrived at the spot of our assignation: Steve's. The original, unbeatable, often-imitated-but-never-equaled Steve's Ice Cream." 
  6. ^ Keynote Entrepreneur: Bertucci's
  7. ^ a b Leiber, Ron. "Ice-cream parlors going nuts over extras". Chicago Sun Times, May 9, 2003. "Steve Herrell first popularized what were then called 'mix-ins' at Steve's Ice Cream in Boston about 30 years ago. He sold Steve's and later opened another chain, Herrell's, and trademarked 'Smoosh-in' to describe his process."
  8. ^ "Using Mix-ins with Python". 
  9. ^ "Listserv 14.4". 
  10. ^ Steve's Ice Cream FAQ

External links[edit]