In the frozen custard kingdom, there’s a new contender vying for the title of best custard in town.
It’s hard to imagine a summer afternoon without indulging in a few generous scoops of frozen custard. Milwaukee’s famous sweet, creamy treat has been beloved by generations — making the Cream City the widely considered the unofficial “frozen custard capital of the world.”
But where did frozen custard get its start? And what makes the cold dessert so dern delectable?
Frozen custard was invented on Coney Island, New York when two ice cream vendors, Archie and Elton Kohr, discovered that adding egg yolks to their recipe created a smoother, richer consistency that stays cold longer than traditional hard ice cream.
Unlike ice cream, frozen custard draws its velvety texture from its high butterfat content — typically more than 10% — and pasteurized egg yolks. But to really separate the “cream from the crop,” frozen custard is produced differently than ice cream.
On a hot summer day, when long lines can stretch around a treat stand, that tipping point serves up an important (and tasty) difference.
Frozen custard made its Midwestern grand debut at the 1933 World’s Fair in the Windy City. By then, many Wisconsin-area businesses were already dabbling in the recipe, including several local breweries swapping beer production with custard creations to keep their businesses afloat during the Prohibition Era.
Soon, with direct access to the state’s dairy farmers and news of this delicious cold treat quickly spreading, frozen custard stands started popping up all over the city, starting with Gilles in 1938, Leon’s in 1942, and Kopp’s in 1950. Together, these three neighborhood “custard kings” reigned Milwaukee’s dessert landscape for decades.
In 2020, owners Kurt Fogle, wife Kate Fogle, cousin Brent Fogle, and their good friend Joe McCormick launched their burger and custard concept as an ode to Wisconsin’s dairy heritage and roadside burger stands.
Working out of the Common Cookhouse, a food entrepreneurs’ workspace in Oak Creek, the group quickly found fans through its food truck, serving up classic Sconnie fare at Zocolo Food Park.
Today, visitors can find Dairyland at Central Waters Brewing Company at 1037 W. Juneau Ave. and at its brand new location at the 3rd Street Market Hallin The Avenue at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Undertaking Milwaukee’s frozen custard tradition was no easy feat. Co-owner Kurt Fogle learned how to make the treat under the wings of master pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer to perfect Dairyland’s creamy custard recipe.
In addition to its alluring custard flavors, including sweet cream, chocolate, and its rotating Flavor of the Day offering, Dairyland’s menu features old-fashioned hamburgers and specialty burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches, french fries, onion rings, and cheese curds, battered in Honey Blonde Ale — served up with buttermilk ranch, of course.
But it’s Dairyland’s dedication to “feeding future memories,” and enticing frozen custard that keeps visitors returning for more.
Don’t wait until summer to give Dairyland Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard and Hamburgers a try. The restaurant opens daily at 11 a.m.