Wyatt and Sheri Boley started Lake City Creamery on Memorial Day weekend of 2013, after spending years perfecting their own hand-dipped recipes at home.
The Boleys enjoyed the freedom of operating their own store, which allowed the couple to experiment with recipes and develop an ice cream base that is much heavier than what most large manufacturers make today.
That flexibility led the Boleys to make their own pumpkin ice cream, their first seasonal recipe, which later inspired spin-off flavors such as Granny’s Pumpkin Pie and pumpkin roll. The couple since debuted dozens of unique, seasonal flavors, including sweet potato casserole, sweet corn and a special butter pecan ice cream mixed with Maker’s Mark whiskey, only available on holidays, which Wyatt Boley said is one of the shop’s most popular flavors.
For Christmas, the Boleys typically make eggnog and peppermint-flavored ice cream recipes, as well as a rum-raisin ice cream available for a limited time after Thanksgiving.
The creamery typically slows down after school starts. But come November, Boley said demand picks up again as families look for affordable entertainment during the holidays, and others seek out the creamery’s pints of homemade ice cream, which he said are never more than a week old.
“When I make peppermint fudge, I make the fudge, and I cut the fudge up and put it in the ice cream,” Boley said. “You don’t find fudge in ice cream. You find chocolate ripple that they’ll call fudge, but it’s not real fudge. This is real fudge.”
Tom Gauvey, owner of Sycamore of Van Wert, found similar success when he started selling pints of ice cream for two days in December six years ago.
The tradition, now known as the holiday ice cream sale, started as a way for Gauvey to “satisfy some cravings” while his shop was closed for the season. It has since become so popular that Gauvey takes pre-orders through early October and sells whatever is left on the second day of the sale.
The store’s peppermint ice cream, made with red and green holiday flakes rather than crushed candy canes, is often the top seller.
“We have people who only buy our ice cream now. They’re addicted to it, which is good,” Gauvey said.
The popularity of Christmas ice cream surprised Laurie Knueven, whose brothers founded Knueven Creamery in Leipsic three years ago.
The creamery, which originally started selling milk made on the family’s dairy farm, is still new to the ice cream business.
The Knuevens developed a base recipe using their own milk and cream, mixed with raw, organic cane sugar and fair-trade vanilla or chocolate, rather than an ice cream mix. For additional flavors, Knueven opts for simple ingredients. Their peppermint chocolate chunk ice cream, for example, is made with crushed candy canes and chocolate chips. Their popular cranberry goat cheese ice cream, sold during the holidays, is made with cranberries and goat cheese purchased from a local dairy farmer.
The Knuevens also started making an alcohol-free eggnog ice cream last winter by request.
“Everything is small batch,” Knueven said, “so we can get the flavors throughout the ice cream and make it special.”