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Why Is Soft-Serve Ice Cream Called a "Creemee" in Vermont?

Victoria grew up in Vermont, where she learned to love the local creemees.

Is it soft-serve ice cream or is it a creemee?

Is it soft-serve ice cream or is it a creemee?

What Is a Creemee?

If you come to Vermont looking for a soft-serve ice cream cone, prepare to be judged. Around here we call them creemees, and if anyone wants to argue about it, we will.

Who Invented Soft-Serve Ice Cream?

The origins of soft-serve ice cream are not completely known, but it is thought to have been invented in the 1930s. There are several different people who claim to be the creators of the frozen treat.

Dairy Queen

The first Dairy Queen (although it was not yet called that) was opened in 1927 by by J.F. McCullough and his son Alex McCullough. The two men preferred their ice cream before it was completely frozen and decided to see if their customers felt the same way. When they found that the public loved soft ice cream just as much as they did, the father-son duo bought an ice cream machine, made a few changes to it, and began selling creemees (or frozen custard as they called them) in 1940.

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Carvel

In the 1930s in New York City, a man named Thomas Carvelas was selling ice cream from a cart. After having an unfortunate flat tire, Carvelas' ice cream began to melt—but being a savvy businessman he sold the softened ice cream as a new kind of treat. It was an instant hit, and in 1934 Carvelas opened the Carvel Frozen Custard shop. In 1939, Carvel built his own soft-serve machine.

Different Names Around the World

  • American Ice Cream (Israel)
  • Soft Ice Cream (China, Sweden)
  • Creemee (Vermont, some parts of New England)
  • Soft Cream (Japan)
  • Soft Ice (Europe)

Vanilla is the most popular flavor by far. Chocolate is also popular, and since creemees are typically served in a spiral, many machines can mix two flavors together, giving you a chocolate and vanilla swirl. Other popular flavors (that are harder to find) include maple (a Vermont favorite!), coffee, raspberry, orange, and blueberry.

So, Why Do Vermonters Call It a Creemee?

In the past, ice cream in Vermont was made with a higher butterfat content, which gave it a creamier texture, so "creemee" comes from "creamy." We cherish our creemees, but don't worry, when we travel we usually know enough to ask for a soft serve. The next time you're in Vermont though, you would be wise to order a creemee.

Best Creemee Stands in Vermont

You should try to stop by at least one of these great creemee stands!

  • Goodies Snack Bar (Addison)
  • Burlington Bay Market and Cafe (Burlington)
  • Dairy Creme (Montpelier)
  • Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks (Montpelier)
  • Village Creemee Stand (Bristol)

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