We’ve reached the Ice Cream American Dream finale! Throughout July, HSP has been soft-serving you facts about Philadelphia’s ice cream history. It is only fitting to end our campaign with a lesson on the legacy of Philly ice cream featuring historic brands like Breyers and Bassetts.
Bassetts was founded in 1861 when Lewis Dubois Bassett began making ice cream in his New Jersey backyard with a churn powered by a mule. In 1885, he started selling his product at 5th and Market St. in Philadelphia. Basset relocated his enterprise in 1892 to the then new Reading Terminal Market, where it still remains today. Bassetts Ice Cream is the only original merchant at Reading Terminal, and still operates as a family business. The ice cream shop celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011.
In 1866, Philadelphian William Breyer began hand-cranking his own ice cream and passing it out to neighbors. He opened his first ice cream shop on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia in 1882; soon after, Breyer opened four additional shops throughout the city. He not only sold ice cream within the shops he ran, but also from a horse-drawn carriage pulled by the beloved company horse, Old Peacock.
After 30 years of making ice cream for the city of Philadelphia, Breyers opened its first manufacturing center in 1893. By its tenth anniversary, the company was selling up to one million gallons of ice cream per year. In 1942, the business was recognized as the largest ice cream manufacturing plant in the world. Though Breyers now has manufacturing plants all over the country, its headquarters remain in Pennsylvania, and it will always pay homage to Philadelphia’s legacy.
(An additional fun fact: the iconic Breyer’s logo — though often thought to be a mint leaf — is actually a sweet briar leaf!)
Thank you for tuning into HSP’s Ice Cream American Dream campaign. Cone-gratulations to all who have followed along with us throughout National Ice Cream Month - you’re the cream of the crop!