It's no surprise that Ohio ranks in the top 10 of ice cream-producing states. Its rural heritage provides a steady supply of the main ingredient — and several families through history began traditions that remain in place today. There are countless ice cream shops in large and small towns throughout Ohio — enough that Ohio now has its own ice cream trail.
Here are seven of Ohio’s first families of frozen fun.
Velvet Ice Cream
Immigrant Joseph Dager arrived in Ohio in 1903 and began making ice cream in Utica in 1914. Within two years, he was producing 200 gallons of ice cream every month, and the creamy, velvety texture inspired the name Velvet Ice Cream.
In 1960, an old grist mill became the company’s permanent home. Ye Olde Mill houses a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor that opened in 1970 and welcomes 150,000 guests each year.
Today, 108 years later and in its fourth generation of family ownership, Velvet produces a variety of flavors such as Buckeye Classic, Cookie Dough Extreme, and Raspberry Fudge Cordial.
Ye Old Mill
11324 Mount Vernon Road, Utica, OH 43080; 800-589-5000
Young’s Jersey Dairy
Yellow Springs, 1960
Young’s Dairy started in the mid-1940s when Hap Young bought land that had been the family farm since 1869. In 1958, the family started to sell milk directly to the public, and by 1960, they had opened a dairy store and started to sell ice cream as well.
Since then, Young’s has expanded into a farm-themed family fun center featuring restaurants, a bakery, cheese, Udders & Putters miniature golf, a driving range, and batting cages as well as farm-education tours for 1.2 million people each year.
Ice cream — as well as gelato and sorbetto — continues to be an attraction with flavors such as Caramel Chocolate Toffee, Farm Sunrise, and White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl.
Young’s Jersey Dairy
6880 Springfield-Xenia Road, Yellow Springs, OH 45387; 937-325-0629
Dietsch Brothers was started as a candy company in the late 1920s by Edward Dietsch, and after his passing, it was reopened in 1937 by his younger brothers, Chris and Don Dietsch, who bought a bakery and changed its products to chocolates and ice cream using Ed’s recipes.
In 1956, the business expanded and moved across the street in downtown Findlay. In its 85 years, the family has developed a wide variety of ice creams, sherbets, and seasonal flavors in addition to its chocolates in two Findlay locations:
Main Store: 400 West Main Cross St., Findlay, OH 45840; 419-422-4474 / 419-422-4486
East Store: 1217 Tiffin Ave., Findlay, OH 45840; 419-423-3221
Graeter’s started in Cincinnati in 1870 when Louis Charles Graeter began selling his homemade ice cream on the street from two carts. In 1900, he and his new wife, Regina, opened a store. After her husband died in 1920, Regina and her sons continued the business, opening the Hyde Park location in 1922 and then expanding.
Today, 100 years since the Hyde Park location opened, Graeter’s can be found at more than 15 Cincinnati locations as well as many locations in Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, Oxford, Kentucky, Indianapolis, and Chicago.
Greek immigrants Thomas and Nicholas Aglamesis arrived in Cincinnati in the late 1800s and in 1908 opened their first ice cream parlor in Norwood, east of Cincinnati, where they made ice cream to be delivered to fashionable homes.
In 1913, the brothers opened a second location in Oakley, adding an ice cream-making plant nine years later. The company became known as Aglamesis Brothers, and it has been continued by the family, retaining Old World methods.
Today, 114 years since it started, the business provides a variety of ice cream and Italian ice flavors as well as seasonal flavors and chocolates from two locations:
Oakley Square: 3046 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45209; 513-531-5196
Montgomery Square Shopping Center: 9899 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242; 513-791-7082
In the summer of 1945, Alice Handel began making ice cream using fresh fruit from her backyard and her personal recipes. As the homemade treat became popular locally, the company expanded, selling franchises and adding vegan recipes, sorbets, sherbets, and ices as well as fat-free and sugar-free variations.
Seventy-seven years later, the company has 18 Ohio locations, mainly in the northeast, Columbus, and Toledo areas, as well as locations in 10 other states.
Handel’s South Side
3931 Handel’s Court, Youngstown, OH 44512; 330-788-0356
It’s been 82 years since the ice cream tradition began, but Toft’s Dairy began in the early 1900s when Chris and Matilda Toft began selling raw milk in Sandusky by horse-drawn wagon. As the dairy grew, it moved to increasingly larger facilities and started to offer ice cream products in 1940.
In 1985, the Toft family built its production facility and ice cream parlor, which showcases 70 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurts such as those named for regional icons — Lake Erie Cookie Island Monster, Muddy’s Sea Salt Slam, and Cedar Point Cotton Candy. It has three locations, including one at Cedar Point.
3717 Venice Road, Sandusky, OH 44870; 419-625-4376
Knoll Crest Shopping Center: 4016 E. Harbor Road, Port Clinton, OH 43452; 419-732-8857