Once In A Blue Moon: Origins of A Rare Ice Cream Flavour

Once in a blue moon, people can have this rare and weird ice cream that has a bit of underground popularity and unique flavour. The ice cream is bright blue and sometimes called a Smurf coloured. A blue moon is when there is a third full moon in a season with four full moons. The blue in this case has nothing to do with the moon; even though, there might be a blue tint on the moon at a glance. The term “blue moon” gives the origin of the phrase “once in a blue moon” which is an idiom for a rare event.

“Blue moon” refers to the ice cream’s colour and not the availability of the flavour. It is the ice cream flavour a part of the triple flavoured kid ice cream Superman in America which is a combination of Blue Moon, lemon and Red Pop ice cream. This ice cream is a combined primary colour ice cream with a lot of sugary fruity flavours. It is an ice cream flavour that rose to popularity in the Midwest part of the United States of America.

Photo of Blue Moon ice cream served at a restaurant in Michigan. Photo credit: Bill McChesney at Flickr

It has a flavour that tastes like sugary cereal, marshmallow, cotton candy and vanilla pudding. This is possibly why it is usually described as a tutty-fruity flavour. But some people have reportedly said it tastes like it has almonds, lemon and raspberry in the ice cream. This ice cream flavour is one of the top sellers of ice cream next to vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. The colour and the flavour can vary from region to region.

The ice cream is more available in the United States and can be regionally found in the Midwest state easier than finding a tub of the blue ice cream in Canada. It is either a special order ice cream that requires shipping it to your home if it is available to do so or an ice cream that requires experimenting at home to know what the ice cream tastes like. It’s an ice cream ubiquitous to Michigan and Wisconsin like how Tiger tail ice cream is from Canada (maybe Ontario), teaberry ice cream is from Pennsylvania or garlic ice cream in Northern California. There are plenty of recipes and variations online to find out what the ice cream tastes like. But this is a trade secret ice cream recipe that most dairy product producers keep.

Map of places in the United States of America that are known to sell Blue Moon ice cream. Please note that this is not a study with interviews but from collections of data by researching where to purchase blue moon ice cream. Some places that are marked not to have the ice cream available might sell the ice cream but in seldom locations. Image by: Under The Moonlight.

The invention of Blue Moon ice cream has two theories of origin since there’s no real answer to the true origins of the flavours due to the majority of the story being lost to history. The one aspect that both theories have in common is the decade of origin being sometime in the late 1940s to early 1950s.

The first theory is the Michigan Theory which gives credit to Sherman’s Ice Cream Parlor in South Haven, Michigan for the invention of the blue moon ice cream flavour. They declined to take claim of the invention of the ice cream. It seems to be just a rumour. But they probably sell real good blue moon ice cream and they have a life-sized blue-painted cow statue with a smaller spotted blue and white cow in front of their store for fun.

The second theory is the Milwaukee Theory. This theory states that it was invented by “Doc” Sidon that came to America in the 1940s. The flavour was patented and trademarked by The Edgar A. Weber & Co. in Chicago, Illinois in the 1940s and 1950s. Edgar A. Weber & Co. produce flavourings and dairy products with liquids and powders since 1902.

Based on the article from Chicago Tribune about Blue Moon ice cream stated that Bill “Doc” Sidon, the chief flavour chemist at Milwaukee flavour maker Petran Products during the 1950s was the person behind the invention. He was an Austrian-born Jewish chemist who got his doctorate in Austria before fleeing the Nazis in 1939 with his wife, Lilly. He worked for Abbott Laboratories in Philadelphia and Chicago before heading to Milwaukee. When Petran Products was most likely taken over by The Edgar A. Weber & Co., the patents became under their ownership. The patent was first issued in 1939. Sidon may have perfected the flavouring but the original experimenting might have come from the owner of Petran Products, Ralph Abrams. The U.S. Patent for Trademark for Blue Moon ice cream (serial number 73149370) indicates the blue colouring and flavour of foods for staple foods under the name Petran Products Inc.

Also, there were other accounts of Blue Moon ice cream being sold before 1939 in local newspapers. In West Virginia, The Charleston Gazette in November 1939 reported the arrival of blue moon ice cream in Blossom Dairy stores as “a fruit mixture with a delightful flavour and colour.” In 1949, the Berkshire Evening Eagle in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, ran an ad for “Blue Moon Ice Cream, something new in blue ice cream. A flavour of its own. Try it.”

Therefore, why is it blue? It is always been blue. At the time of conception, blue moon products were everywhere. There were Blue Moon Coffee and Blue Moon Silk Stockings on sale in the 1920s and other products like Four Roses Whiskey Blue Moon and Blue Moon Brand for vegetables and fruits from Los Angeles, California. Also, one of the first science fiction made “A Trip To The Moon” from the 1920s was released. This was most likely named due to the presumable rarity of the ice cream and the name was a little common. 

Banner Credit: Fallon Michael at Unsplash

BLUE MOON Trademark – Trademarkia

Chicago Tribune – Blue Moon

Whoo New – Melting the Mystery of Blue Moon Ice Cream

Taste Atlas – Blue Moon

Atlas Obscura – Blue Moon Ice Cream

Groupon – What Flavor Is Blue Moon Ice Cream?

%d bloggers like this: