American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

American Classics: Blue Moon Ice Cream

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

While researching Grape-Nuts ice cream, I came across a host of other regional ice cream flavors I'd never heard of. The most intriguing among them was a magical blue ice cream called Blue Moon.

Popular throughout the Midwest, Blue Moon was reputedly invented in Milwaukee in the 1950s. Nostalgic fans on Chowhound lovingly described it as having a "nuclear turquoise color" and tasting "kinda fruity, but not really." Blue Moon is not blueberry ice cream. It's not really any sort of recognizable fruit. Blue Moon purveyors tend to keep their recipe a closely guarded secret so speculation abounds as to what gives it that unique flavor. Some swear it's just almond extract while others say it's nutmeg. Growing up in New England, I never experienced real Blue Moon ice cream, but it sounded an awful lot like a cherished childhood indulgence: Smurf ice cream.

If you asked seven-year-old me what my favorite ice cream flavor was, I would have said without hesitation: Smurf. Yes, Smurf ice cream, a magical blue, marshmallow-studded concoction that's supposed to be some sort of cotton candy/bubble gum/blue raspberry flavor, but tastes like a sequin top hat-wearing unicorn tap dancing on a ferris wheel—it's that magical. As a kid in Southern Connecticut, this enchanting flavor could only be found at Sweet Claude's in Cheshire. We didn't often get out to Cheshire, but you can be sure that when we did I ordered Smurf ice cream. Every. Single. Time.

I'll admit as a child I never really stopped to think about what might be in Smurf ice cream other than blueness, marshmallows, and love. It's been years since I've had Smurf ice cream and I've never enjoyed a proper Blue Moon ice cream, but one bite of this homemade batch brought back a flood of memories of Smurfier days.

A word of caution: My seven-year-old self also lived for Peeps and similar toothache-inducing sweets. Blue Moon ice cream and its Smurf counterpart are sweet, sweet, sweet and bright blue. If either of these things are a turnoff, you might leave this flavor to the kiddos and the young at heart. Anyone left standing grab a spoon and dig in!

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Blue Moon Ice Cream »

Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."

About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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