Inside Graeter’s – French Pot Ice Cream in Cincinnati

In Food Tripping, Midwest, Videos by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch10 Comments

Go behind the scenes to see how Graeter’s uses the traditional French Pot ice cream method to make their Cincinnati ice cream one of the best in the world.

Go behind the scenes to see how Graeter's Ice Cream uses the traditional French Pot method in Cincinnati to create some of the best ice cream in the world.

Inside Graeter's Ice Cream - A Cincinnati Icon 2foodtrippers Graeters Ice Cream

We traveled to Ohio for two reasons: Graeter’s Ice Cream and Cincinnati Chili. Both are iconic American foods that are not to be missed on any food-focused road trip.

We love this iconic French Pot ice cream for its bright, fruity flavors and big, decadent chocolate chip inclusions. If you’re not familiar, let us guide you into what we believe to be one the best, most original, artisan-crafted products in the United States.

Going behind the scenes at the largest artisan ice cream company around has turned us into even bigger fans. Check out our video here:

The 2foodtrippers History with Graeter’s Ice Cream

Daryl first tasted the iconic French Pot ice cream many years ago while visiting his friends, Joe and Susan, for dinner. Susan’s father, who lived in the Queen City at the time, had been express shipping the ice cream to Susan in Pennsylvania because he loved both the ice cream and his daughter so much. Daryl tasted a few spoonfuls and was hooked.

Mindi, on the other hand, had never heard of Graeter’s ice cream until she saw it at Whole Foods just two years ago. Despite initially balking at the seemingly hefty price tag, she too became hooked after just a few spoonfuls of the black raspberry chocolate chip. Graeter’s pints may look similar to many ice creams on the shelves today, but the similarities end there.

Black raspberry chocolate chip is the flavor that we usually eat at home. We love the intense raspberry flavors and big chocolate chunks. Not surprisingly, this is the company's most popular flavor. Inside Graeter's Ice Cream - A Cincinnati Icon 2foodtrippers Graeters Ice Cream

Black raspberry chocolate chip is the flavor that we usually eat at home. We love the intense raspberry flavors and big chocolate chunks. Not surprisingly, this is the company’s most popular flavor.

French Pot Ice Cream

If you’re not familiar with Graeter’s Ice Cream, then you’re missing out on the ultimate ice cream experience. This family run ice cream business has been using the French Pot process for over one hundred years. Graeter’s makes 20,000 pints a day, each in a small batch. Many of these pints stay in Ohio, but others are shipped to 45 additional states, which is how we discovered and fell in love with the ice cream in Pennsylvania.

The best place to try all of Graeter's Ice Cream flavors is at one of their ice cream shops in Cincinnati. The shops feature bonus flavors that are being tested as potential new flavors. Inside Graeter's Ice Cream - A Cincinnati Icon 2foodtrippers Graeters Ice Cream

The best place to try all of Graeter’s Ice Cream flavors is at one of their ice cream shops in Cincinnati. The shops feature bonus flavors that are being tested as potential new flavors.

Graeter’s is unlike any ice cream in texture and flavor. Our favorite, the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, is loaded with super intense, vividly violet colored raspberry flavored ice cream. But calling the chocolate ‘chips’ is a misnomer.  The ‘chips’ are actually large chunks of chocolate that magically remain pliable despite freezing cold temperatures. Digging a spoon into Graeter’s is like a treasure hunt, an event sometimes yielding large tablespoon sized chunks of deep rich dark chocolate. The experience, both in flavor and excitement, is a major eating event that varies with every pint and every creamy spoonful.

Bob Graeter holds a 10 lb. bar of chocolate. The chocolate will be melted down and incorporated into the company's unique French Pot Ice Cream spinning process. Inside Graeter's Ice Cream - A Cincinnati Icon 2foodtrippers Graeters Ice Cream

Bob Graeter holds a 10 lb. bar of chocolate. The chocolate will be melted down and incorporated into the company’s unique French Pot Ice Cream spinning process.

Touring the Graeter’s Ice Cream Factory

“We actually do the making of the ice cream… the old-fashioned way,” said Bob Greater, the company’s head of quality assurance.

The plant is modern, but in order to insure quality, certain elements have been performed the same way as they were done 100 years ago.

Graeter is one of the fourth generation of family members who still take great pride in their product. As Graeter and colleague Tim Philpott personally led us through the factory, we saw firsthand that this statement is true. The company has incorporated necessary modern processes for efficiency, safety and cleanliness while keeping the most important processes and techniques intact.

“We have latest in 19th century technology,” Graeter laughingly shared during our tour.

Bob Graeter proudly shows the pecans, just one of the fresh ingredients used to make Graeter's Ice Cream, during our factory tour. Inside Graeter's Ice Cream - A Cincinnati Icon 2foodtrippers Graeters Ice Cream

You see, Graeter’s was started in 1870 by Louis & Regina Graeter and remains a family owned business to this day. The ice cream is made using 2.5 gallon French Pots, spinning ice cream machines with open tops that create an ultra smooth product. The French Pot process allows the ice cream makers to pour in various mixtures, like chocolate, and freeze the finished product to an amazing pliable consistency. Graeter's Ice Cream is the only large ice cream manufacturer that uses the traditional French Pot method. Inside Graeter's Ice Cream - A Cincinnati Icon 2foodtrippers Graeters Ice Cream

Additionally, the Cincinnati ice cream is hand-packed into each pint and gallon by 20 people each shift, two shifts a day. As Graeter said during the tour, making ice cream the old-fashioned way is a “very labor intensive process.” In an age of new artisan producers, kudos to Graeter’s Ice Cream for being a leader in this movement.

So have they ever been tempted to sell? The company receives offers all the time. But Graeter, along with the members of his family, feels that they have a greater responsibility to the city of Cincinnati. The ice cream has become a fixture in the city’s fabric and the Graeter family believes that they are not only owners of the company but also keepers of the brand, Graeter said.

“We’re the custodians of the brand and guardians of the quality for the next generation.”


Comments

  1. Maybe it’s because I have too many ex-girlfriends from Cincinnati, but I never was able to jump on the Greaters or chili bandwagon. Or maybe it’s because I live in Charlotte, the real Queen City. I tried. I really tried. The raspberry chocolate chip almost had me convinced…. I did enjoy seeing behind the scenes though through your video and would definitely give them another try.
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  2. Wow! I have never heard of this ice cream, but will be in Cincy at some point this year (it’s baseball season-Go Cardinals!), and I DEFINITELY want to check out a tour of their plant. Assuming they offer public tours?

  3. Well now, you are in my old neck of the woods now. 😉 I’ve been eating Graeter’s ice cream for over 20 years now but we like to go to the ones in Worthington, Columbus. 😉 (and of course black raspberry choc chip is our favorite flavor, too). Glad you got to try it and I loved the behind the scenes. Now I cannot wait to read about Skyline/Gold Star Chili because I will drive hours out of my way to have a freaking chili cheese bun (no hotdog). YUMMY!

  4. Mmmm…. ice cream! I have to be honest – I’d never heard of Graeter’s before. I don’t recall seeing it the one time I was in Cincinnati… I’ll keep an eye out for it in Chicago. I’ll have to give it a try if it’s available here!

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