We went over to a friend’s house a few months ago [what we call Summer in San Francisco and others call Fall] and they offered us some ice cream. They pulled out a half gallon of Bud’s Vanilla Ice Cream and a light bulb went off in my head. It was only about a 4 watt light bulb so it faded away quickly. My wife brought up Bud’s the other day so I had to dip into the morgue and see why this stuck in my head at one time.
As it turns out, Bud’s Ice Cream was the first premium Ice Cream sold in the United States from an ice cream shop [there had been restaurants going back to the 1800’s that served elaborate ice cream desserts made on the premises that didn’t have any funny ingredients and it was pure cream thick and heavy in each scoop]. Bud Scheideman opened his store in Noe Valley at a date I couldn’t find, but he sold it to his cousin Al Edlin in 1952 for $8000. It was then that the premium aspect jumped out. They didn’t really have much competition back then because when I was a kid in the 70’s you had generic store brands that mixed milk in with their cream or simply replaced the cream altogether and sold it as Ice Milk. Ice Milk was nowhere near gelato [which is made with milk and not cream] and Bud’s was the cream of the crop for ice creams.
It was the only ice cream my Mom bought for awhile until Baskin-Robbins opened up 31 flavors. My Mom fell in love with their black walnut or the jamoca almond fudge which Bud’s never made, but when it came to chocolate or vanilla ice creams it was always Bud’s because it tasted better. My Mom would have run back to Bud’s for black walnut or jamoca almond fudge if they made them, but I guess Bud’s had a problem with using the term jamoca which refers to a person of mixed racial heritage.
As I was searching through the morgue [i.e. my addled brain and google] the hammer came down. Bud’s was sold to Berkeley Farms in the 80’s who outsourced the production of Bud’s Ice Cream to Bangkok, Thailand [Headquarters are in Ho Chi Minh City]. OUTSOURCED ICE CREAM?!?!?! Are they going to start milking cows as well? Maybe that’s why Berkeley Farms slogan is Farms? In Berkeley? That’s because their ice cream is made in Thailand, not Berkeley.
Now, while I’ve never been to Bangkok, Thailand I’ver heard many good things about it from friends who’ve visited [most of which I can’t print here and have very little to do with ice cream, but upon occasion…] This isn’t something that transports like say, plastic bottles. Ice cream needs to be transferred in a large freezer cargo ship. There must me some expense that adds to this. Couldn’t a place like say Canada or Mexico do the job or maybe Berkeley instead of shipping ice cream across the Pacific Ocean to the states?
It was a pretty good ice cream, but you don’t find it in too many places in San Francisco anymore. Our friends got it from a high end grocery store in San Bruno where it was $9 for a half gallon. While it’s good, it’s not three times the price as good. We have so many locals or much closer than Thailand who make good ice cream that I don’t need to pay $9 a half gallon for that I’m just as satisfied with.
P.S. I’m more of a gelato fan, gianduja to be specific and I can make it at home very easily.