The Cult of Blue Moon Ice Cream

Blue moon is a sweet staple of Midwestern summers.

The phrase "Once in a Blue Moon" never really made any sense to me as a child. In my world, you could find blue moon ice cream in the freezer aisle of every grocery store and in the cold case of any scoop shop worth its salt. The flavor, which has a distinct, Smurf-like hue, was always one of my favorites growing up—due in no small part to the fact that it would stain your tongue a bright, galactic blue.

Blue moon ice cream is not only memorable because of its vivid shade, but also because of its mysterious flavor. No one can agree on what it actually tastes like; some claim it tastes of citrus with strong hits of vanilla, while others swear it is flavored with almond extract. Some say it tastes like a bowl of Froot Loops or Fruity Pebbles; others say it is cotton candy and bubble gum. Recipes to re-create the flavor at home commonly call for raspberry and lemon. Personally, I think it tastes like a concoction of black cherry, vanilla pudding, and marshmallow.

blue cone with many scoops of blue moon ice cream
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Many attribute the invention of blue moon to Bill Sidon, who was the chief flavor chemist at Petran Products, based in Milwaukee, in the 1950s. The recipe, which still remains a secret today, was first trademarked by the company. Since then, blue moon has gone on to become a staple of Midwestern ice cream culture. It's made by a number of creameries in the region today, but they each keep their proprietary recipes a secret—and I think the ice cream tastes better for it.

Best of the Blues

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream

This family-run shop in Madison, Wisconsin, was founded in 1962. Though it produces more than 100 different flavors, blue moon remains a fan favorite. $9 per pint,

Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery

At this small-batch creamery in St. Louis, blue moon is part of the "Nice" collection, meaning it's free of alcohol, but its pungent raspberry and lemon flavors won't leave you wanting. $12 per pint,

Hudsonville Ice Cream

This Michigan staple sells its ice cream in big containers to feed a crowd.

Salted Blue Corn Waffle Cones

Nothing goes better with blue moon than a blue cone. These cones, from The Konery, based in Brooklyn, are a bit less sweet than a regular waffle cone, which works to balance the sugary ice cream. $140 for 144 cones,

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