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 brand which began as an ice-cream parlor chain owned by Steve Herrell. He opened his first establishment at 191 Elm Street in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1973. Known as the Original Steve's Ice Cream, the business introduced the concept of super-premium ice cream and customized ice cream desserts using the mix-in.


Herrell graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1967 with a degree in sociology.[1] In 1973, he mechanically altered a small-batch commercial freezer to produce an extraordinarily rich, creamy, low-air ice cream, and he founded Steve's Ice Cream to sell the new ice cream at his store.[2] 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 his ice cream. Instead of having pre-mixed flavors like chocolate chip at his store, he had his staff mix freshly made ice cream with candy or other confections based upon customer requests. These candy additions were called "smoosh-ins," and the custom-blended flavors proved to be a success with customers.[2][3][4]

In 1975, Steve's charged $.35 and $.55 for cones, with an additional $.10 for each "smoosh-in" of M&M's, Heath bars and others. A fruit smoosh-in was another $.10. While waiting in line, customers could pay a dime to rent a piano roll for the store's player piano[5] which Steve had rebuilt.

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'Angelo sub chain until D'Angelo was purchased by Yum! Brands in 1993, and Steve's franchises were replaced by Pizza Hut.

Steve’s began selling pre-packaged ice cream in various grocery stores, which caused friction with franchise owners and Steve’s corporate office in the late 1980s. Franchise owners felt they were being undercut by making the Steve's brand available in grocery stores. Additionally, 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, handmade ice cream. Some franchise owners refused to continue paying franchise fees. A number of franchisees were forced to go out of business, which likely contributed to the company’s demise, and the company closed in the late 1990s.[6] [7]

In 1980, Herrell opened up a new ice cream business, Herrell's Ice Cream, which is still in existence. He stepped down as a day-to-day operator in 2014.[8]

The "Smoosh-In"[edit]

Steve's trademarked the term "smoosh-in," which forced competitors to call it the mix-in. The smoosh-in consisted of candies or other ingredients blended into the ice cream to order. The popularity of the Heath Bar smoosh-in, created by Steve's and later used at other chains, prompted the Heath company to expand its operation to include a commercial foods division.[3] Later chains took the concept of the smoosh-in and applied it to their operations, creating a whole new industry around it.[6]

The business concept at Steve's inspired other chains, such as Cold Stone Creamery and Amy's Ice Creams, and products like the Dairy Queen Blizzard and Wendy's Twisted Frosty product lines.[9] 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."[10]

Steve has been credited with inspiring the founders of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, whose original store, which opened in 1978, also included -- like Steve's -- a freezer to churn the ice cream, and a player piano.[11][5] A photo of Steve, Ben and Jerry hangs on the wall of Herrell's Northampton, Massachusetts store.[12]

Brand revival of Steve's Ice Cream[edit]

The Steve's Ice Cream brand was acquired by David Stein in 2009, a former employee of Steve's when the company was owned by Integrated Resources in the 1980s. The new Brooklyn-based Steve's Ice Cream was launched in 2011 with the distribution of packaged ice cream (with guar gum added)[13][14] plus stores located in Manhattan and Brooklyn.[15] David Stein and The Fresh Ice Cream Co.—which was doing business as Steve’s Ice Cream—filed for bankruptcy in February 2017, and was purchased by Dean Foods Company of Dallas, Texas in June 2017.[16] As of July 2021, Dean Foods does not show Steve's Ice Cream as one of the brands on its website.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Levin, Sala. "From the Mixed-in Files of Mr. Ice Cream". Terp. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "History of Herrell's". Herrell's. Archived from the original on July 29, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Eric Asimov (August 27, 1987). "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!'
  4. ^ Andrea Pyenson (August 16, 2001). "Recalling a luscious loss of innocence". The Boston Globe. Column. p. H7. Retrieved December 22, 2007. 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.
  5. ^ a b Rancatore, Gus (September 18, 2009). "R.I.P. Herrell's Ice Cream: A toast from Toscanini's". Cambridge Day. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  6. ^ 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."
  7. ^ "Bertucci's". Keynote Entrepreneur. Archived from the original on January 18, 2019.
  8. ^ "FAQ". Herrell's. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  9. ^ Bruce Mohl (May 23, 2004). "The scoop on Boston's ice cream war". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 21, 2007. 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.
  10. ^ Austin, Tom (July 5, 2009). "America's best ice cream shops". NBC News.
  11. ^ Wernhoff, Lisa. "A Look Back at the Original Ben & Jerry's Shop". Ben & Jerry's. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  12. ^ Gardner, Debbie (August 2013). "With Steve Herrell, the ice cream is still king". Prime Magazine. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  13. ^ Krikorian, Michael (December 30, 2013). "The Year in Ice Cream; 339,150 Calories in 1 Flavor". Krikorian Writes (blog).
  14. ^ "Small Batch Bourbon Vanilla". Steve's. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014.
  15. ^ "FAQ". Steve's. Archived from the original on October 31, 2011.
  16. ^ Eisenpress, Cara (June 18, 2017). "Indie ice-cream brand Steve's gets scooped up out of bankruptcy". Crain's New York Business.

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