We serve only the finest…
Gifford’s World Class Ice Cream
At Gifford’s, ice cream is more than just a dessert. It’s a vacation from the everyday. Every rich, creamy flavor is crafted the old-fashioned way, at their family-owned creamery in Skowhegan, Maine, using only premium ingredients. The result is the kind of ice cream that brings you back to those long, carefree summer days, where the only worry was how many days were left before school started.
The Gifford’s Story
In the Beginning
The story goes back to the 1800s, when a young man named Nathaniel Main from Pawcatuck, Connecticut, started a home delivery milk and ice cream business from the back of his horse-drawn wagon. Fifteen years later, Nathaniel’s oldest son, Chester, got involved in the family business. Eventually, Chester’s daughter, Audrey, married her college sweetheart Randall Gifford and together they forged a splendid path that led to Skowhegan, Maine, and to the birth of Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream.
Moving to Maine
Randall and Audrey shared a common love of family and life’s simple pleasures that remains at the core of the family business today. They also grew up in the dairy business and from early on, were steeped in the tradition of delicious old-fashioned ice cream. After running a small milk business and ice cream shop for 17 years, they pulled up roots and moved to Randall’s home state of Maine, bringing their passion for ice cream right along with them. They purchased a small dairy in Farmington in 1971, and three years later purchased another dairy in Skowhegan, where the Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream plant remains today.
The family began creating small batches of creamy ice cream using Audrey’s parents’ recipes for strawberry, peach, wild blueberry, and coffee. The first seasonal ice cream stand was opened in Skowhegan, followed by another in Farmington. Eventually, Randall and Audrey sold the milk portion of the dairy business to Oakhurst Dairy. Their sons Roger and John took over the ice cream portion of the business and transformed the milk plant into a world-class ice cream factory.
It quickly became clear that Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream was something truly special. Made with fresh milk and cream from local dairy farms, it had that old-fashioned, rich flavor that won the hearts of children and families alike. At the time, the business was making 10,000 gallons annually with a core of six determined employees. Eventually Roger and John started to introduce the ice cream to a broader audience. In 1987, they carried their product across state lines and, over time, added three more ice cream stands in Bangor, Waterville and Auburn.
Today, Gifford’s sells 1.7 million gallons of ice cream each year and serves more than one million cones each summer from five family-owned and operated stands. The company offers 100 unique ice cream flavors, frozen yogurts, sherbets, and sorbets. The ice cream can be found in grocery stores, independent ice cream shops, colleges, universities and restaurants all the way from Maine to the Mid Atlantic, to the Midwest and as far West as Nevada. When you have five generations of ice cream making history behind every flavor, it’s no wonder that Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream has received its share of national and international awards. But perhaps most importantly, Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream brings you back to those carefree days when your only worry was how many more days until summer.
How Gifford’s Makes Their Ice Cream
Every Gifford’s ice cream flavor is unique – and it’s not just what’s in it, but how it’s made that makes the difference. From a small yellow clapboard factory in the rural town of Skowhegan, Maine, each flavor is made on a single production line. Gifford’s is a small-town success story.
It all starts with the family recipes, created in part by great grandparents Chester and Fayolyn Main and passed down through the generations. The Gifford’s teams of ice cream-makers crafts 90 percent of their flavors from scratch using the freshest ingredients and steam kettles. Gifford’s uses a special blend of fresh milk and cream from local farms delivered to the ice cream plant several times per week. This creamy base sets the stage for the creation of Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream flavors.
Once the flavors are blended in our mixing tanks, they begin the manufacturing process in our 1940s Cherry Burrell ice cream freezers. These antique machines slow churn each flavor to achieve maximum creaminess. The Cherry Burrells are an essential step in making Gifford’s ice cream famous! After the slow churning process, they carefully fold special ingredients into each flavor– cookie dough, premium nuts, Maine wild blueberries from just up the road, and strawberries that have been thawed and sugared over two-days. At this point each delicious flavor is poured into its own container and is ready for the freezer. Then each container travels along the conveyor belt into a hardening tunnel – something akin to the North Pole – with subfreezing temperatures and high wind velocity. Here, temperatures plummet to 60 degrees below zero! For up to 8 hours the ice cream endures some of the coldest temperatures on earth! This magical step helps to produce a smoother, creamier ice cream.