Bassetts Ice Cream, Classic Local Brand, Moved on Decades Ago from Downright Stubborn Employee

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barrel with brand name on it
Image via Bassetts Ice Cream at YouTube.
This vintage ice cream churn got its power from what today would be considered an unusual source but was common in 1861 mass-production practices.

Philadelphia’s Bassetts Ice Cream, recognized as the oldest ice cream company in the U.S., remains a favorite among collar county consumers. But its appeal is national, thanks to web sales and a shipping policy that sends pints to dessert lovers across the country.

The brand’s legacy rests on exclusive use of dairy sourced in Pa. alone. Further, the unique taste and texture result from use of a recipe that — unlike competitors — uses no eggs, which are generally added as an ice-cream stabilizer but that can also alter consistency and color.

And although those parameters continue to guide the Bassetts product line, innumerable changes have taken place since its founding during the Abraham Lincoln administration.

For one, the former churning process — powered by mules — is gone.

At one time, however, employees routinely hitched the farmyard beast to a large-scale ice cream churn and, walking it in circles, produced large quantities of the frozen treat.

Numerous innovations in machine technology eventually made him obsolete.

But the values he represented, embodying a production process imbued with care, patience, and a little ingenuity, continue to guide the brand even today.

More on Bassetts Ice Cream — further history, familial connections, online purchasing instructions, etc. — is at its website.

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