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Back before McDonald’s sold breakfast all day there was a magical moment between the breakfast and lunch menus crossed over. You could walk into almost any location and order a sandwich known as the “Mc10:35”, it was a combination of Egg McMuffin and McDouble. It’s a tasty sandwich and you can still get it. What made it a BIT more enjoyable back then, was knowing you had to be in the right place at the right time. Knowing you had the opportunity to order it, meant you had mental access to the “secret menu”. This was never in a commercial, it was never on the big board you stared at before approaching the cashier, this sandwich combination was created internally. This sandwich was created by a maverick that decided that an egg MUST go on this burger. They wanted brunch on a bun. It’s that kind of culinary genius that inspires others and reaches new levels of taste buds.

 

You have possibly heard various stories of these types of creations. There are rumors all over the internet of meat mountains, items stuffed inside of each other, and even double or triple grilling techniques. I think “In and Out Burger” might have more secret items than regular menu items. You may have even been too nervous to ask about them, because it’s technically not following the rules. Maybe THIS location doesn’t know about it they look at you funny. It’s OK to ask here at The Cup, everyone is invited to play. Let’s throw the rules out and have some fun. We want to leave no stone unturned. You see articles all over your social media feeds of “food hacks”, and now it’s time we hacked our menu a bit and put on our mad scientist lab coat. In this case it is our signature apron, but you get the meaning…

 

As you probably know, we have over 50 ingredients you can add to your favorite frozen treat, plus a rotating special flavor of the week. We offer some favorite suggestions and classic combinations on our menu board, but the list would be too long to cover ALL the variations. We work a lot of hours and have “sampled” many many many amazing combinations here at The Cup. It’s really tough, but we soldier on, for you, and for science. We don’t have a one hundred percent success rate…someone has to prove that Strawberry Coffee Coconut is NOT a thing…So you loyal blog readers will be treated to some of our favorite “Double Secret Cup Menu” combos. From time to time we’ll post a special sundae or snowstorm we order here at the shop, and maybe you’ll love it too. Just come in and ask for it by name and we’ll make it fresh for you. Maybe we will feature toppings that are only available for a limited time. We just had a run of Candy Corn leading up to Halloween. Who knows what will come up next…Red Hots? Peeps? Bacon? Again, the rules are gone!

 

You may have already been doing this for years. Feel free to share your original creations with us on Facebook, Twitter, or throw a picture on our Instagram feed. Maybe one day we’ll even name one after you! You can tell your friends that you were the collaborator of their new ‘go to’ item.

 

Don’t be nervous to ask when you come in. There is no password, no handshake, just keep checking the website for upcoming blog posts, and you are in the club of knowing the names of the “Double Secret Cup Menu.”

The Birth of Ice Cream

THE HISTORY OF ICE CREAM

Do you know how ice cream as we know it came to be? – It may surprise you!

While there is not one specific inventor or birthplace of ice cream, historical references imply that consuming ice cream dates back as far as 200 B.C.!  The beginnings of modern ice cream were more along the lines of today’s snow cones.  Roman emperors would send runners into the mountains for snow, and then flavor it with fruits, juices, or honey.

Fast forward a thousand years and Marco Polo brings a recipe from the Far East back to Italy that closely resembled what is now called sherbet.  It is estimated that this was the beginning of ice cream as we know it, which was formulated sometime during the 1500s.  Around 1660, ice cream was finally made available to the general public.  The first café in Paris, called Café Procope, featured a recipe of blended milk, cream, butter, and eggs.  Café Procope is actually still in operation today, and is the oldest continuously run restaurant in Paris!

ICE CREAM IN AMERICA

It is not determined when exactly ice cream was brought over to the United States, but one of the first mentions of ice cream in America was in 1744 by a Scottish colonist who wrote about the delicious strawberry ice cream he had while visiting the house of Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen.  In 1777, confectioner Philip Lenzi released the very first advertisement for ice cream in the U.S. in the New York Gazette, announcing that ice cream was available ‘almost every day’ at his shop.  New York records show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 on ice cream the summer of 1790.  Today, that equals about $5,000!!

For many years, ice cream was a rare delicacy enjoyed only by the elite.  It required a sufficient amount of money to own at least one cow as well as to afford not selling its milk and cream.  It would require large quantities of sugar and salt, which were imported commodities.  Ice was also a luxury, which had to be cut from a river or lake during and winter and stored in an ice house (another luxury), in hopes that it would last until the summer.  Ice cream at this time was made using the ‘pot freezer’ method, which consisted of placing a bowl of cream inside a bucket of ice and salt.  Thank goodness for modern drive-thru windows!

THE BOOMING ICE CREAM BUSINESS

In 1843, Nancy Johnson patented the hand-cranked churn, creating smoother ice cream than the pot freezer method.  By 1851, a milk dealer by the name of Jacob Fussell had built an ice cream factory in Pennsylvania.  An unstable demand for milk and cream left Fussell with large amounts of surplus, which he utilized to produce ice cream.  His business was so successful that he opened up several other factories.  Mass production cut the cost significantly, opening up the market to people of lower classes and boosting popularity.

In the 1870s, the momentum of the ice cream market was again boosted with the invention of industrial refrigeration by Carl von Linde of Germany.   Like most other American industries, ice cream production boomed because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, new freezing processes and equipment, and motorized delivery vehicles.  Each of these advancements made ice cream even easier to produce, package, transport, and store.

Soda fountains emerged in 1874, and with them came the invention of the ice cream soda.  Religious criticism surfaced for indulging in sinfully rich ice cream sodas on Sundays.  In response, ice cream merchants in the late 1890s left out the carbonated water from the ice cream sodas and invented the ice cream ‘Sunday’, eventually changed to ‘sundae’ to remove any connection with the Sabbath.

By the 1930s, grocery stores were first starting to sell ice cream.  World War II popularized ice cream as a way to boost troop morale and it grew to become a symbol of America at that time, so much so that Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini banned ice cream in order to avoid any association.

THE START OF CUSTARD CUP

Custard Cup started in 1949. It was originally opened by George and Helen Potter in Danville, Illinois. They started selling the custard that Mr. Potter had developed. Business started slow, and it was not uncommon to see George and Helen sitting out back playing cards while they waited for customers to come. The Potters also created our signature cold fudge, to solve the problem of custard melting when hot fudge was put on it. They owned the business for 20 years and then decided that they were ready to retire. The Potters had no children, so they sold “The Cup” to Wilmer and Dorotha Jarling in 1969.  Mr. and Mrs. Jarling watched as the number of customers grew, after school, after church on Sundays, and it started turning into “the place” to go.

In 1983, Jarling’s Custard Cup opened its doors in Champaign at 309 W. Kirby Avenue.  It was opened by Doug and Christy Jarling.  Fast forward to 2016, Doug and Christy Jarling wanted to retire after many years of commitment to the Champaign-Urbana community.  Once word was on the street, there was quickly an overwhelming level of interest and buzz around what comes next for the Cup.  And  yes, there was some tweeting by the famous Tom Hanks.  Amidst an enormous level of inquiries, they sold their business to a small group of local private investors that include former University of Illinois coaches, athletes, and alums as well as a few others that love the Cup.  The Champaign store is the flagship store, open all year-round and the owner of the famous secret recipes.  We hope you enjoy the Cup.  We are grateful for our heritage and are committed, as well as honored, to carry on the tradition.

 

Childhood memories are the best

When I was a kid, my favorite video on Sesame Street was factory footage of crayons being made. Up to that point crayons were just things that I had, they were just there, and if there came a time where I needed more, we got them from the store. Everything was just AT the store. The STORE was the genesis of all my “stuff”, just the magical place that had limitless supply of things I liked. Now one morning I was watching the melting, forming, wrapping, and loading of these familiar objects, and it just blew my mind. It sent me on a spiral of wanting to know how EVERYTHING was made, from my Transformers, to my favorite snacks.

 

Now you can sign on to one of many TV streaming services to watch hour long documentaries about how and why things are made. If you want to see the origin story of the infamous Sriracha Hot Sauce, you can. I don’t think I should disclose how many of these I have seen, but just picture a lot of time, and then double that. I’ll save you from a tangent of the marvels of technology…The story of the passion that goes into creating a product, and the steps it takes to get there is fascinating to me. So if the opportunity arises to check out any of our local businesses in Champaign, I take them up on it. To this day I still love to check out how a t-shirt is screen printed, or take some extra time to see a full service brewery in action. My son was invited to the kitchen at a downtown restaurant to meet the chef, and see a couple steps in his meal preparation. It was something he talked about for a solid week afterwards.

 

We’d like to offer that kind of “behind the curtain” opportunity to children in the area at Jarling’s Custard Cup. We make all of our flavors fresh daily, so there is always something happening, even before we open. You can now schedule a morning tour to see a backstage view of that production. We’ll show them how we load the machines and turn a liquid into a solid. They can check out our many coolers filled with packaged flavors from all of our weekly specials. Our warehouse is full of treats from the cookies we make into sandwiches, to all the various candy and sundae toppings. They might even want to try on a hat and apron for a fun picture, and picture themselves one day joining the Cup Crew.

 

Great care has been taken over the years to keep the details together to preserve the product integrity. The same machines are still in use, the recipe is the same, and the step-by-step process to create your favorite frozen treats are the same they have been for decades!

 

We feel we can put that much care and effort in embracing the community and sharing experiences with our customers. The hope is to keep that joy of coming to the store the same as when you were a kid, and looking forward to bringing your children here one day to have the same fun.

 

We welcome various ages, but feel it would be more enjoyable for those 4 and above. Our shop is not very large, so we can only schedule a modest number of children at a time. Parents are welcome too, but will count into the total amount of guests.  We can possibly work out multiple dates for larger groups.

 

If you are interested in scheduling a tour, please send an email to ryan@jarlingscustardcup.com