Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Jersey Ice Cream Company

This post was written by library volunteer Gail Denisoff.

The Jersey Ice Cream Factory on the corner of Liberty and Yates Street. Courtesy of the Grems-Doolittle Library and Archives.  
During the teens and twenties of the last century the familiar red and white sign of the Jersey Ice Cream Company beckoned to Schenectadians in search of a sweet treat.  Located on the corner of Liberty and Yates Streets, the Jersey Ice Cream Company was considered a state of the art facility providing “brick ice cream” and other novelty items. The building that the Jersey Ice Cream Company occupied was also notable for being the residence of President Chester A. Arthur during his time at Union College.

The former ice cream factory is looking good! It currently houses an antique store called The Katbird Shop. Courtesy of Google Maps.
The Jersey Ice Cream Company was formed in February of 1912, the successor of the old Staples Ice Cream Company that had been in operation for many years.  In May of 1912, an article in the Schenectady Gazette extolled the modern “cream making appliances” and the sanitary conditions of the plant due to daily scrubbing.  The facility had cold rooms that were kept at a constant temperature winter and summer to keep the ice cream frozen.  The silver lined freezers were surrounded by freezing liquids kept cold by blocks of ice harvested from the pond in what is now Steinmetz Park on Lenox Road.  Until it burned down in 1929, a large ice storehouse next to the pond was owned by the company to stock ice for its plant. 

The Jersey Ice Cream Factory's icehouse is seen in the background. Courtesy of the Grems-Doolittle Library and Archives.   
The ice cream was made with only fresh cream, granulated sugar and fruit flavors which made for a pure rich product.  It was sold in one quart or one pint bricks. The “Jersey Bricks” employed modern packaging for the time: the ice cream was frozen into a brick shape and then wrapped in vegetable parchment, sterilized paper and then put into a cardboard carton.  This “Famous Jersey Tripl-Seal” promised a hygienic product for the protection of their customers.  They offered a variety of flavors; vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, Neapolitan which contained all three and other rotating flavors such as coffee, pistachio, maple walnut, orange, pineapple, cherry custard and coconut, depending on the season.  At Christmastime they also offered novelty items such as Jersey Frozen Pudding, Holiday Moulds, Holiday Mousse and Bisque Toroni.  Advertisements stated that Jersey Ice Cream “is the most economical dessert for a family.  It requires no time for preparation, no fire for cooking and no materials.  You buy it ready for eating.  Every member of the family enjoys it and it is good for all.”
An advertisement showing the various flavors of Jersey's Brick Ice Cream. Courtesy of

The company flourished under the leadership of F.T. Killeen, president and Lawrence M. McGinley, treasurer and general manager.  The company was very active in the community sponsoring baseball and bowling teams over the years and even had a checkers team that won the eastern regional championships.  They also donated ice cream for many civic events in Schenectady.  By August of 1929 the company had outgrown the Liberty and Yates Street plant and had purchased property on Brandywine Avenue for a new facility that would cost in the neighborhood of $200,000. The Schenectady Gazette reported that McGinley said the new plant “will be modern and sanitary in every respect and probably will take first rank among plants of its kind in the state. One of the features will be the predominance of electric refrigeration in the new plant. Mr. McGinley said that the growth of the business of the Jersey Company made it absolutely necessary to abandon the present quarters.”

Do you scream for ice cream? There's nothing that says Halloween more than a potato shaped ice cream mould. Courtesy of
The new plant was never built.  In October of 1930, the Jersey Ice Cream Company certified to the New York Secretary of State that it had changed its corporate name to the Schenectady Ice Cream Company.  In November, the General Ice Cream Company, which had is main offices in Schenectady, acquired the Lenox Road and Brandywine Avenue properties which had belonged to the Jersey Ice Cream Company. In the spring of 1931, the company was taken over by General Ice Cream Company, a subsidiary of National Dairy Products, Inc. and Lawrence McGinley was made General Manager of both companies and chief territorial representative for National Dairy Products.  In July of 1931 the Schenectady Ice Cream Company filed with the Secretary of State a certificate of voluntary dissolution.  Later, Sealtest Dairy had a presence in the area, providing milk and ice cream products.  It was owned by National Dairy Products.  Currently, Hershey’s Ice Cream has a distribution plant on Albany Street in Schenectady.

No comments:

Post a Comment