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Tom Carvel (July 14, 1906 – October 21, 1990), born Thomas A. Carvelas, was a Greek-born American businessman and entrepreneur known for the invention and promotion of soft ice cream in the northeastern United States. He was the founder of the Carvel brand and franchise.
Early business career
Carvel began selling ice cream out of his truck in 1929 in Hartsdale, New York. In 1934, on Memorial Day weekend, his truck had a flat tire—so he pulled into a parking lot next to a pottery store and began selling his melting ice cream to vacationers driving by. The owner of the pottery store allowed Carvel to use electricity from his store, so he opened his parked truck for ice cream sales. Within two days he had sold his entire supply of ice cream and concluded that he could increase his profits by working from a fixed location.
Founds Carvel Brand as a franchise
In 1936, Carvel purchased the pottery store and converted it into a roadside ice cream stand; this permanently established Carvel as the first retailer to develop and market soft ice cream. The same year, he established the Carvel Brand Corporation and developed a secret soft-serve ice cream formula.
Carvel was featured in his own advertisements as the company believed that his gravelly voice and personal charm were important factors in the success of his business.
Death and controversy
Carvel died in Pine Plains, Dutchess County, New York, in 1990 and is buried with his wife Agnes in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, which is only a couple of miles away from the spot where he began selling ice cream in 1929.
In October 2009, Carvel's niece Pamela Carvel filed court papers to have Carvel's body exhumed and an autopsy performed to investigate whether he was poisoned. Some family members suspected he was drugged or suffocated by employees that Carvel suspected of embezzlement.
Carvel's estate was said to be worth about $80 million to $250 million.
- One controversial scoop: Tom Carvel's niece looks to prove ice cream icon was murdered in 1990, http://articles.nydailynews.com/2009-10-04/news/17936997_1_tom-carvel-ice-cream-death-certificate