When you think back to your childhood, what was your favorite sweet? It’s a safe bet that ice cream would be pretty close to the top of the list.
Was there anything better than being allowed a Mr Whippy (with a Flake in it) on a trip to the seaside, then rushing off to eat it before it melted?
In the summers of my childhood, at ten to seven in the evening, a diesel engine rumbled in the distance, quickly followed by the discordant chime of Greensleeves.
My brother and I, and the rest of the kids on the road, would wait excitedly, spending money in hand, for Bernie the ice cream man to come along and serve us cones topped with fluorescent-colored lime syrup or chocolate and nut sundaes.
Back then, ice cream tended to only come in three flavors, traditional vanilla, strawberry and chocolate – or if you were feeling daring, Neapolitan, which was a combination of all three.
Since then, ice cream has moved upmarket, thanks to luxury brands like Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs and Jude’s. And when it comes to flavors, the only limit is your imagination.
Lakenham Creamery, which is tucked away just off Hall Road in Norwich, was established in 1921 by the beautifully named Christmas Aldous.
A century ago, ice cream was made in a wooden tub filled with ice, which had to be swirled by hand as the ice cream mixture was poured.
Noël would deliver his Aldous Ices, as the company was then known, on his motorcycle and sidecar, ringing a bell to announce his arrival.
By the late 1930s, he had adopted more modern production methods, with electric machinery.
Today, the company still makes traditional Aldous ice cream – based on the original 101-year-old recipe – as well as its award-winning Norfolk County Dairy Ice Cream, which it began making in the mid-1980s. .
As the Norfolk County range began to grow, the decision was made to rename the business Lakenham Creamery – reflecting the fact that ice cream had always been produced in the Lakenham area of the city.
Damian Hunt is Managing Director of Lakenham Creamery. He has worked there since the age of 15 when his father, who was the company’s accountant, found him a helping job during the six-week school vacation.
“In 1993, aged 17, I joined Lakenham Creamery, officially in a full-time position as general assistant at the factory,” he says.
For 25 years, they have supplied their award-winning Norfolk County Dairy ice cream to world-renowned luxury department store Harrods, and it is also stocked at the Royal Estate of Sandringham and delicatessens across the east of England.
And their Aldous ice cream, which has been loved by generations in Norfolk, celebrated its centenary last year by bringing back their Creamy Pops lollipops for a limited edition.
“Our Norfolk County dairy ice cream is made with fresh cream, egg yolks, sugar and natural flavours. We produce over 20 different flavors ranging from classic French Vanilla, Belgian Chocolate and Double Strawberry to more unique flavors such as Gooseberry and Elderflower, Mascarpone and Fig, and Blueberry and Cream” , explains Damian.
“And our Aldous ice cream is a very special range for us.”
As Damian explains, making ice cream, using the traditional batch method, is a two-day process.
As for ingredients, their milk and cream come from Peterborough-based Meadow Foods.
They source some of their flavors from local family business Essence Foods, which produces jam and chutneys in Norfolk and other ingredients, such as flavoring pastes, are sourced from well-known companies in the jam industry. ice cream.
“The first day is what we call ‘boiling’. This involves pasteurizing the milk, cream and other ingredients. The second day is what we call ‘freezing’, i.e. when we produce the ice cream ready to be frozen and sent to our customers,” says Damian.
On a busy day in the summer months, they could make up to 2,500 liters of ice cream per day.
“Demand has been high this summer as we have had incredible weather throughout August which has helped sales tremendously. During the slower months our average production run is around 500 liters per day,” says Damian.
Norfolk County Dairy Ice Creams has won more than 120 awards, including 39 Great Taste Awards, which are like the Oscars of the delicatessen industry. This year, their French Vanilla and Peaches and Cream (developed to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee) won one star and their Rich Butterscotch won two.
“Winning the Great Taste Awards is hugely important to us because it’s recognition that what we make is of exceptional quality and tastes amazing,” says Damian, adding that the flavors that have proven particularly popular this summer were Norfolk County Peaches and Cream and their new range of Aldous 500ml punnets, including White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.
Of course, ice cream isn’t just for summer anymore – and the team is starting to think about developing a new flavor for Christmas, though Damian doesn’t give the scoop on what that will be.
“We could potentially be looking at a new flavor for the holiday season. All we can say is that it will contain some kind of alcohol!”
It takes two months to develop a new flavor that tickles the taste buds – and the whole team gets involved. Testing ice cream flavors? It pretty much sounds like a dream job.
“All the staff get together to discuss any new trends or flavor ideas they’ve had and from there we finalize the new flavor,” says Damian.
“We then prepare samples of the flavor and each member of staff can try the ice cream and give their verdict. Nine times out of 10, the flavor we created works perfectly with our ice cream and we start production ready to supply stores and restaurants.
So what’s her favorite flavor from Lakenham Creamery?
“The Norfolk County New York Coffee – the coffee flavor with the fresh cream base is the perfect combination. I would highly recommend everyone try it,” he says.
Lakenham Creamery has had a stall in Norwich Market since the 1930s – and a selection of Aldous and Norfolk County Dairy Ice Cream are available from stall 8.
Their Factory Ice Cream Shop, in Trafalgar Street, near Hall Road, Norwich, is open 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. See lakenhamcreamery.co.uk or follow them on Instagram and TikTok @lakenhamcreamery