Just in time for the Fourth of July, our kitchen sleuths take a closer look at an all-American true-blue original—ice cream with a top-secret flavor and color.
Blue Moon ice cream conjures up sweet summertime in the upper Midwest. But what’s in this electric-blue food phenom? Cantaloupe? Almond-orange? Lemon-vanilla? No one—not even the Michigan cows whose milk make the ice cream possible—will say for sure. Though the popular Midwestern flavor has been compared to everything from marshmallows to Froot Loops cereal, makers won't be pinned down, admitting only that Blue Moon Ice Cream is "fruity." Mum's the word indeed.
“It’s a mystery—and that’s part of the mystique of it all,” says Bob Eisenman, of South Haven, Michigan’s Sherman Dairy, where a blue life-size cow (“Blue Moo”) adorns the roof.
Blue Moon is among top sellers at countless Midwestern scoop shops—owners get frequent requests to ship it nationwide for weddings and holidays—but its history is as sketchy as its top-secret recipe. It’s been around at least since the 1950s, when the atomic-age Blue Fly cocktail was invented. But even the National Ice Cream Retailers Association is clueless about its exact origins and ingredients.
It’s just that taste mystery—coupled with its vivid color—that’s “the genius of Blue Moon ice cream,” writes author Neil Gaiman on his Web journal, one of a legion of fans devoted to the Midwestern original. And though we can't tell you what's in it, we can share a popular recipe or two if you have a pint or two on-hand.
-By Lori Hall Steele
BLUE MOON I
2 quarts vanilla ice cream
3 cups finely chopped pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup blue curacao
Soften ice cream in refrigerator. Bring pineapple, sugar, blue curacao to boil in saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for five minutes. Strain into bowl, reserving pineapple solids. Stir pineapple into ice cream and return to freezer for 2 hours. Stir again, and freeze until firm.
BLUE MOON II
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
2 ounces blue curacao
2 ounces white crème de cacao
Blend together; serve immediately.