Who among us doesn’t remember our children’s first encounters with ice cream — or even our own?
Family photo albums are replete with pictures of small children wearing as much ice cream on their faces as they got into their tummies, or with them in tears after they learn that turning an ice cream cone upside down is not a good idea.
Generations of Hudson residents enjoyed their first ice cream treats at any of a number of stores and parlors in town. On Main Street, at least four businesses offered ice cream in the 1950s and ‘60s. Regional chain Isaly Dairy long operated a store at 190 North Main Street, where their famous "skyscraper" cones were scooped up, along with other ice cream and deli products.
The classic marble soda fountain at Saywell’s Drug Store (160 North Main Street) survived the longest (by far) and was certainly the most popular place to get cones, sundaes, sodas, shakes and floats. In the years before pre-packaged ice cream was sold in grocery stores, the young ladies behind the fountain would hand-pack quarts of Borden ice cream to go.
A few doors south at 134 North Main, Standard Drug also had a soda fountain, along with a lunch counter. The store was remodeled and the fountain removed in 1962 when Revco purchased Standard Drug.
At 80 North Main Street, the Thomas Dairy Store opened in 1947, followed by Peace’s Restaurant and later Mary and Ted’s. Today, Hudson’s Restaurant bears little resemblance to the casual ice cream, short-order and coffee shops that preceded it.
Much farther south on Main Street, the building that is now a FedEx office was the home of Bricker’s. In 1986, with most of the other local ice cream shops gone, Bricker’s became a must-stop location for many Hudsonites in search of a cure for their cravings. It remained open for 20 years.
If you were headed west on Streetsboro Street from 91 in the 1970s, you would encounter The Rail, a restaurant in two railroad cars and a caboose that sat on abandoned tracks to the right of today’s Shell gas station.
The ice cream man wending his way through the streets of town goes back many years — at least to the 1950s when he would cruise by Hudson Elementary School during the lunch hour. Even today, at the first sign of warm weather, chances are an ice cream truck will drive slowly past your home as the driver keeps a sharp eye out for children in search of an ice cream bar or Popsicle.
Today’s Hudson residents still look forward to the annual Ice Cream Social, as they have since 1948. The tradition started (and continues) as a fundraising event for the Hudson League for Service. Originally conducted on a Saturday afternoon in July, it has since been on a Friday night in June. It is the final event of Hudson’s Festival Week, which also includes the Hudson Garden Club’s Home & Garden Tour.
In 1992, Hudson resident and commercial ice cream broker Jim Forkin decided to launch his own private label. He called it "Hudson" ice cream and the package bore the image of the famous clocktower. Originally sold in eight flavors in 60 local grocery stores, the line later expanded to include super-premium, 16 percent butterfat ice cream in a variety of "international" flavors.
Today’s younger Hudsonites remember none of these old stores and soda fountains. In the years to come, however, they can tell their children about how they used to eat ice cream at Hershey’s or Cold Stone Creamery, or indulge in frozen yogurt at LuLu’s.
Times and places may change, but not Hudsonites’ love for ice cream.