The ice cream landscape has shifted over the years in the area, but one holdover from years past is Stoddard’s Custard Style Ice Cream, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this summer.
Over the years, the custard-style ice cream has remained tasty, according to longtime patron Mark Strickler.
“I can remember, as young as I could eat ice cream, I did eat ice cream, and that’s where we went,” he said. “They had one of the best ice creams you could get.”
He said his grandfather visited the ice cream stand for treats dating to the 1940s. Strickler and his wife still frequent the shop, located at 1321 W. Main St. in Kent.
The custard-style ice cream as “smooth as a baby’s bottom” and can’t be matched by other establishments, Strickler added.
Opened by Lea and Lyle Stoddard, Stoddard’s was bought by Daniel Kaye in 1967, according to current owner Lisa Kaye.
“I guess they ran it for 19 years, and then they retired, and my dad bought it in 1967,” she said.
Lisa said she started managing the ice cream stand after her father died in 1983, eventually purchasing it from her family in 1997.
“I was the one being groomed to run the place anyway,” she said, so the day-to-day operations were already routine. “The business part of it I had to learn quickly. I had the help of our accountant at the time, who taught me to do payroll. Everybody kind of helped out. I was thankful to have my family members. We all chipped in and did what we had to do to survive.”
In 2006, Lisa said she added the “Stoddard’s custard cruiser,” a truck she said she takes to festivals, weddings, graduation parties, “anything that people come up with.”
Lisa said she’s always taken great care to produce good ice cream.
“We were very conscientious about the product being the best it could be and the service being the best it could be,” she said. “The most important things are A, you have to have a quality mix to start with; B, you have to have quality ingredients; and C., the machines are the biggest ingredient to making a firm, creamy, smooth product.”
Unlike other machines, Lisa said Stoddard’s machines don’t pump air into the ice cream.
“That’s why it costs a little more and looks a little smaller,” she said. “It’s more of a quality vs. quantity thing.”
One core tradition, offering vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day custard-style ice cream, is still going strong, said Lisa. She said the custard-style ice creams are all derived from a common base, but Stoddard’s has about 200 flavors of the day in its repertoire. Depending on the trends and tastes of the day, the list of possibilities shifts, but some will likely never disappear.
“Banana and black raspberry have been the No. 1 and No. 2 flavors of the day for 70 years straight,” she said, adding that banana edges out black raspberry as the all-time favorite. “I try to stay up with the trends and create things that would be fun or interesting or different. There are so many ways you can come with to create ice cream flavors.”
In Stoddard’s early days, Lisa said the custard-style ice creams were the only items on the menu, but it has expanded substantially since.
There are now around 20 hard ice cream flavors, sugar-free flavors, sherbet, flurries, sundaes, dairy-free ice cream, milkshakes, malts and more.
“We’re conscientious about anyone who has an allergy,” she said, adding people can let employees know at the time they order.
Stoddard’s is open spring through early fall, usually through the end of September or first week of October, so there’s still time wish Lisa a happy anniversary before she closes up shop for the season.
“I really appreciate the customers patronizing us all these years and allowing us to stay open,” she said.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.