BY ANN PARK
Asael Farr & Sons Company has a rich history in Ogden. Not many businesses reach their 100th Anniversary. That’s 100 years of getting along with family, producing a well-loved product, working hard, and adapting to change. The world has changed significantly since 1920. But we still love ice cream! The Farr Better Ice Cream shop is the longest continuously operating ice cream shop in Utah.
The Farr family got their start selling ice. In those days, no one had a fridge or a freezer, and they used the ice to keep their food cold. In the winter when the ponds froze, they would harvest the layer of ice and store it, carefully insulated, for use during the warmer months.
As the Farr family grew and changes came, they decided to move into the ice cream business. By 1929, they were producing twenty gallons of ice cream per hour. They began with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, and soon added several other fruit and nut flavors. Within 20-30 years, they developed over 600 different ice cream flavors, some of which are still used today. Currently, they are producing over 20,000 gallons a day.
The Farr family has preserved some of the marketing materials from decades past. Much of their original artwork and cartoons were produced by Burke Mattson. He went on to work for Disney on some of their classic and best-loved films. He drew the famous Farr’s Quality Kid, who was their mascot for many years. The western theme was everywhere in popular culture and entertainment at the time.
What have ice cream flavors been like through the years? In the beginning, it was all about nuts. Everyone craved nuts of all kinds in their ice cream. Fruit flavors were also a must. That was ice cream until about 1960, when flavors like Batman, Robin, and Nuts-About-Baseball appeared. The 1970s were a turning point in ice cream flavors with the introduction of Cookies and Cream. Before that, no one realized you could crush cookies and put them into ice cream. Candy flavors quickly followed. Nowadays, everyone wants chunks of cookies or candy in their ice cream. Most recent was the invention of a cookie-dough flavor, which changed the world for a lot of people. Another frequent choice at the ice cream counter is playdough ice cream. Michael Farr was deeply involved in the development of this eye-catching flavor. “It’s one of our most popular flavors,” he said. It was difficult to create, and the flavors and recipe are top-secret. It includes tastes that are hard to identify when you eat it. Exactly what they are remains a mystery.
It took a while for the grocery industry to embrace ice cream. For some time, people had to go to the ice cream parlor. By the 50s and 60s, everyone was buying ice cream to take home to their own freezer. Farr’s Ice Cream is a household name in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, but it’s sold all over the western U.S. The company estimates that over a billion servings of Farr Better Ice Cream have been consumed. I think it’s time to make it a billion and one. But what flavor to choose…?