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July/August 2007
‘50s-Style Freeze: Meadows Original Frozen Custard
Beat the heat with cold custard served in a retro ice cream parlor at the Meadows Original Frozen Custard in Hagerstown.

by Kristal Bowers + photos by Jason Turner

• • •

As you wipe the sweat from your brow, ponder this riddle: What’s hot and cold and makes you feel great all over? The answer to both the riddle and the summertime heat is The Turtle from The Meadows Original Frozen Custard in Hagerstown. Since opening their franchise in June 2006, co-owners Tim, Connie and Mike Illig have been serving up cool confections to a briskly growing customer base. Mike, the store’s manager, says the family’s business philosophy is basically two-fold: Provide a superior product that is made fresh all day, every day, and provide customers with superior service. His personal slogan, “Be obnoxiously nice!” is prominently displayed for employees, whom he describes as “hard working and great with the customers.”

A Proud History
The Meadows Original Frozen Custard got its start in the summer of 1950, when J.V. Richard and Delbert Meadows opened a small custard stand in Duncansville, Pa. The Meadows’ frozen custard was an instant hit. Demand for the icy smooth treat that some folks refer to as “wind pudding” has caused franchises to pop up in the last five years, each individually owned and operated, and each still serving the same recipe.

Tim and Connie raised Mike and his three siblings in Ebensburg, Pa., about 25 miles from The Meadows’ original location. When The Meadows opened a store in the Illigs’ hometown, Mike took a job there, working as an assistant manager for more than six years. A franchise deal for a Hagerstown store fell through about three years ago, and the franchisor jokingly asked Mike if his parents would be interested in purchasing the local franchise. Mike relayed the “joke” to his parents and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, Tim assists Mike with the store’s management while Connie handles the accounting and marketing. The Illigs have created a nostalgic environment at their store, designing the décor to simulate a ’50s-style eat-in ice cream parlor with music to match, a drive-thru and two walk-up windows.

One Smooth Food
If you think there’s no big difference between traditional ice cream, frozen yogurt, soft-serve ice cream and frozen custard, you couldn’t be more wrong! The process by which frozen custard is made differs from ice cream’s manufacture in one main aspect: air. During the manufacturing of ice cream, the volume can double in size by beating air into the mixture. Frozen custard has less air in it than any other ice cream product — which gives it an incredibly smooth texture. The Meadows uses a special barrel where the mix turns into frozen custard. The machine continuously feeds mix into the freezing barrel. It is rapidly frozen, creating a frozen dessert with very small ice crystals and low air content.

Just like ice cream, frozen custard contains milk, cream, butterfat and special flavorings. The primary difference in ingredients is that frozen custard also contains eggs. Meadows Frozen Custard uses its own secret recipes to provide only the highest quality frozen custard. The Meadows’ custard is always served fresh within two hours of being made. And it’s produced right in front of your eyes in a special batch freezer.
Customers enjoy custard flavors including vanilla and chocolate and more exotic tastes such as blueberry, coconut, chocolate banana, nuts and honey, black cherry vanilla and chocolate peanut butter cup. Monthly calendars listing daily flavors, weekly specials and current price lists are available in the store and online at  HYPERLINK "http://www.meadowsfrozencustard.com" www.meadowsfrozencustard.com.   
Additionally, Meadows employees make and serve delicious frozen yogurt. The diet-conscious customer can order The Meadows’ fat-free, no sugar added vanilla frozen yogurt with sugar-free hot fudge, or the low-fat yogurt flavor of the day with whipped cream — which has less than a gram of sugar! Who knew that “diet food” could taste this good?
Along with cups and cones of scrumptious frozen custard and yogurt, The Meadows menu features smoothies, arctic swirls, sundaes, shakes and frosts. And if that isn’t enough to make your tongue wag during these dog days of summer, consider The Meadows Frozen Custard and Frozen Yogurt cakes: two layers of frozen custard or yogurt, a layer of rich chocolate or white cake and a delicious creamy milk fudge center.  Special order cakes require 48 hours but they are definitely worth the wait. And not only are the cakes tantalizingly tasteful, they are eye-candy, too! Each cake is custom-decorated to your specifications.
“We’re not a fast food establishment, and every order is as unique as each customer’s taste. Our product and orders are made fresh all day long, so when a customer places a large order of our specialty items, it takes time to create these items and make sure it’s made exactly the way the customer wants,” Connie says. “We’re doing the best we can to minimize any delays our customers have to endure — and we hope that our service and products will make it worth the wait.”
It is — especially for The Turtle: one dip of vanilla frozen custard topped with hot fudge, caramel and pecans. Another dip of vanilla custard is placed on top of this and smothered with more hot fudge, caramel and pecans. If that’s not a recipe to beat the summer heat, I don’t know what is!

----

The Meadows Original Frozen Custard
222 E. Oak Ridge Drive, South Pointe Shopping Center, Hagerstown
301-790-2400
www.meadowsfrozencustard.com
Open 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily.

   view more articles from the July/August 2007 issue >>

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