Making ice cream was as soon as an enormous enterprise within the metropolis of Blue Earth. In truth, Schwen’s Ice Cream & Sweet Firm was at one time the most important employer within the metropolis.
Walter Schwen, Sr. and his spouse Margaret opened The Candy Store on the nook of Fifth and Most important streets in 1914.
“It was positioned the place the submit workplace now stands,” Rick Schwen, a grandson of Walter and Margaret, says. “Margaret was a behind-the-scenes one who was a key to the success of the enterprise.”
Rick, alongside along with his siblings and cousins, has been working with the Faribault County Historic Society to place collectively a everlasting show on the historical past of the corporate. Will probably be positioned within the museum within the Etta C. Ross constructing.
Rick, his brother Invoice and sister Kitty, alongside together with her husband Randy Tweden, have been on the Faribault County Truthful this yr sharing their reminiscences whereas serving free ice cream cones on the Historic Society constructing.
“We averaged serving 100 ice cream cones per hour,” Rick mentions.
It was additionally a chance to fulfill individuals who have been aware of Schwen’s Ice Cream, and listen to their tales and reminiscences concerning the firm.
“Along with Invoice and Kitty, I had three different brothers and one other sister,” Rick shares. “We lived in a home at 216 First Road. We had an exquisite childhood rising up in Blue Earth.”
Rick says the corporate was in its infancy when his grandfather’s brother, Herb, determined to spend money on the enterprise in 1919.
“He would stay an proprietor till 1947,” Rick explains. “My grandfather had three youngsters, Walter Jr., who was my father, Maurice and Dorothy. When World Battle II started, the three siblings dropped what they have been doing and joined the conflict effort. My father and Maurice have been within the Navy and Dorothy was within the Purple Cross.”
In 1947, after the conflict was over, Walter Jr., Maurice and Dorothy got here again to Blue Earth to be part of the enterprise, and Herb offered his shares to them.
Walter Sr. didn’t wait lengthy to make his mark within the ice cream enterprise. Within the early years of the operation he got here out with what was referred to as “The Chocolate Dream” ice cream bar, an ice cream bar coated with a skinny coat of chocolate. Which got here first, “The Chocolate Dream” or the “Eskimo Pie,” has additionally been a subject of dialogue over time.
“What I can let you know is that this,” Rick explains. “My son, Nadeem Schwen, who’s a patent legal professional, did quite a lot of analysis on the matter and located paperwork exhibiting my grandfather filed a patent for his Chocolate Dream bar in 1917. He would later file a patent interference case in opposition to Russell Stover and Christian Nelson (the person given credit score for inventing the Eskimo Pie).
“It could have price some huge cash to undergo with the case and my grandfather ultimately offered his patent rights to Stover and Nelson in 1921.”
Rick says the corporate was forward of its time in lots of areas.
“My grandfather additionally had the patent for the ice cream show case,” Rick feedback. “His creativity led him to develop an all-natural ice cream and a low sugar ice cream. The corporate additionally produced a full line of novelties together with ice cream Christmas timber, popsicles, drumsticks and ice cream sandwiches.”
Schwen’s was among the many first firms to make use of liquid corn syrup, in keeping with Rick.
“Utilizing liquid corn syrup made it simpler to maintain issues sterile and in addition aided in large-scale manufacturing,” Rick explains.
Wesley Schwen, a brother to Rick’s grandfather, was on the school on the College of Minnesota instructing college students about manufacturing ice cream merchandise. He was featured in an image and article within the Blue Earth Submit in 1940, in keeping with Rick.
“The heyday of the corporate was from the 30s by way of the mid 60s,” Rick says. “When Schwan’s, which started enterprise within the 50s, began to get greater it triggered some confusion between the 2 manufacturers.”
It additionally led to a catchy promoting slogan by Schwen’s, in keeping with Rick.
“Schwen’s Ice Cream, the “E” is for excellence,” Rick says in sharing the slogan. “The ice cream trade turned very aggressive within the 50s and 60s.”
Rick states there was a key enterprise mannequin distinction which gave Schwan’s a aggressive edge.
“Schwan’s required their drivers to personal and function their very own vehicles with no geographical restrictions,” he notes. “The truck drivers have been impartial businessmen and weren’t affected as a lot by big-time competitors.”
In the meantime, Schwen’s could be shopping for a brand new fleet of vehicles each 10 years.
Schwen’s would ultimately promote the enterprise and it might shut in 1974. “My dad was the advertising and marketing vp accountable for promoting and Maurice was the president,” Rick feedback. “The enterprise was offered to an legal professional from the Twin Cities by the identify of Patrick Creamer. He took all the money out of the enterprise and let it go bankrupt.”
It might have been a tragic ending for the enterprise nevertheless it doesn’t dim the great reminiscences Rick and his siblings have of their time in Blue Earth.
“All however my two youngest siblings labored on the plant. We had fights within the freezing room with the cousins and have been throwing half pints throughout the room at one another,” Rick remembers. “It was 30 levels under in there and we have been wearing heavy, insulated fits in order that helped soften the blows. And, in fact, we acquired to pattern the ice cream when it was contemporary, which is when it tasted the very best.”
Rick says placing the Schwen’s show collectively has been a household mission involving all of his siblings and cousins.
“We’re nonetheless excited about listening to from anyone who could be keen to share their story, photos or different memorabilia,” Rick mentions. “Folks can contact me at 513-324-2221 or e mail me at email@example.com
Rick says the exhibit needs to be able to open this fall.
“The household thought it might be good to do one thing which might inform the complete story and fill within the background on the historical past of the corporate,” Rick explains.
He nonetheless has fond reminiscences of his hometown.
“We have been very fortunate to have been born and raised in Blue Earth,” Rick feedback. “Being raised in a small city has many advantages together with studying a great work ethic. You need to behave as a result of everybody is aware of you nevertheless it additionally provides an individual the chance to study lots of good life classes at an early age.”