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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Perry's Ice Cream

Editor's Note: I try to keep this blog pretty much only about pizza, but I'm making an exception here, as this relates to an exceptional event for me - an inside look at the place where they make my favorite ice cream. I justify this decision on three grounds: (1) I'll be following up this post shortly with a new post reviewing some pizza I tried during my journey; (2) several local pizzerias serve this ice cream; and (3) it's my blog, and I want to post this.
I don't have a huge sweet tooth - at a party, I'll always gravitate toward the chips, rather than the sweets - but I do love ice cream. And my go-to brand is Perry's. I love their flavors, it's made in WNY, it's reasonably priced, and it just plain tastes good.
It's also showing up in some local pizzerias, like 2 Ton Tony's in Irondequoit. It was thanks to 2TT owner Tony Proietti that I was able to arrange a visit to Perry's plant in Akron, about halfway between Batavia and Buffalo. Perry's doesn't generally offer tours to the public, so this was a real treat, literally.
For reasons, I suppose, of protecting trade secrets, I wasn't able to photograph much. The photo you see here is part of an exhibit on Perry's history on the second floor, where a visitor can also take a look at Perry's operation at work, through plate glass windows.
On the day I visited, they were making ice cream sandwiches, which ties in to Perry's origins as a supplier to local school districts. Ice cream sandwiches are one of the few fond memories I have of school cafeteria lunches.
Today, with the health police upon us, ice cream sandwiches, like pizza, have become demonized as the reason our kids are fat, so schools don't account for so much of Perry's business these days. But maybe that's worked to the advantage of the rest of us, as Perry's has expanded into supermarkets and ice cream parlors, where we have we now have many Perry's choices available to us in supermarkets. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Bittersweet Sinphony - coffee flavored ice cream with bittersweet fudge swirls and fudge chunks. A few years ago, my local Wegmans stopped carrying it, and I shot off an email to them begging them to bring it back. I don't know if that played a part, but they've since seen the error of their ways, and it's back in the freezer case.
Many of Perry's flavors are only available seasonally, in ice cream shops. I was excited to learn that one of my favorites in that category, Fireball, may be available in packages at some point. If you're a fan of those little cinnamon candies, either the heart-shaped ones or the nuclear-meltdown-hot ones, you've got to try it.
Best of all, I got to sample some of Perry's new flavors for 2015, including Toasted Coconut and Deep Sea Treasure. Both were good, but I'd give a slight edge to the former, as I love the flavor of toasted coconut. The fact that the shreds of coconut are coated with fudge didn't hurt.
I tend to seek out unusual flavors (speaking of which, watch for an upcoming post, either here or on my Facebook page, on some Indian potato chips I found recently, but I digress), and so with what remaining room I had left in my stomach, I had to check out Movie Time, described as "popcorn flavored ice cream with sea salt caramel swirls and amazing caramel truffles." A huge whiff of buttery-popcorn aroma, with sweet and salty notes on the palate. This one would probably tend to divide people, but I enjoyed it.
As I look out my window, it seems hard to believe, but I know warmer weather is coming. And while there's always a container or two of Perry's in my freezer, one of the joys of our all-too-short summers is going with my family to our local ice cream shop for a cone. Check out Perry's Flavor Locator to see what's available in your area, and let me know if you have any recommendations.

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