It pops out from inside the glass case at your favorite Wisconsin ice cream parlor. That bright blue color practically screams at you compared to the Rocky Road, Mackinac Island Fudge and Cookie Dough.
But it’s the flavor of Blue Moon ice cream that gets everyone talking – and wondering…
A quick internet search turns up hundreds of people who’ve moved away from the Upper Midwest now desperately trying to find a pint of the stuff.
So what is Blue Moon, and where did it come from?
You’ll have to dig deep to start finding clues. But one thing is for sure, the story of this mysterious treat is deeply rooted in Wisconsin.
You’ll probably start your hunt for answers with Google, and a Wikipedia article, which will be the top result. But that’s a dead-end. All it tells you is that the origins of Blue Moon ice cream are unknown, stories are disputed and the list of possible flavors is long.
Here are some of the “Usual Suspects”
- Bubble Gum
- Cantaloupe or Honeydew Melon
- Cotton Candy
- Blue Curacao
- Cake Frosting
- Various Berries
- Froot Loops and Milk
That’s quite a list of possibilities. However, it gets us no closer to nailing down what truly makes up the distinct flavor of Blue Moon.
The History of Blue Moon & the Science of Flavor
Some of the best research on Blue Moon Ice Cream comes from Nara Schoenberg who wrote about it for the Chicago Tribune in 2007.
She explains that there are two main theories concerning the history of the ice cream. One credits Sherman’s Dairy Products in Michigan. The other points to a flavor-maker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Michigan theory is quickly shot down. While Sherman’s ice cream parlor is known for selling it, the current owner denies his dairy had anything to do with the invention of Blue Moon flavoring.
A more likely theory, Schoenberg claims, is that Blue Moon was created by a man named Bill “Doc” Sidon.
Sidon, who passed away in 1991, worked for Petran Products in Milwaukee as chief flavor chemist. In 1982, Petran was sold to Edgar A. Weber Co. of Chicago, which now owns the trademark to the secret formula for Blue Moon ice cream.
Schoenburg was able to track down someone who actually worked with Sidon at Petran. Jim Doig, a partner at Edgar A. Weber, says it was “common knowledge” that the flavor was created at Petran and that Sidon was the genius behind it.
He very well might have been a genius too. Sidon knew five languages and had a doctorate from his native country of Austria. He fled the Nazis with his wife and learned English by going to the movies after coming to America.
Schoenburg also spoke with Sidon’s daughter an only child. She described him as a quiet man who’d be unlikely to brag about inventing the fun flavor.
The theory of a flavor chemist creating this mysterious ice cream makes a lot of sense. It’s especially convincing when you couple this story with the opinion that Blue Moon ice cream tastes like the leftover milk after eating a bowl of Froot Loops.
Perhaps, Sidon combined a whole bunch of fake fruity flavors into one tasty, creamy treat.
However, there are some potential holes in the Sidon Theory. Through her research, Schoenburg discovered multiple mentions of a type of ice cream called Blue Moon in local newspapers dating back to the late 1930s – a decade before Sidon allegedly invented the flavor.
This could mean that Bill “Doc” Sidon was not the first to create Blue Moon ice cream – but he very well may have perfected the flavor as we know it today.
The Beaver Butt Theory
We might have a good idea about the origins of Blue Moon ice cream – but we’re not that much closer to determining what really makes up the flavor.
If you love Blue Moon – you may not want to hear this theory…
It started with a quotation from the owner of Edgar A Weber & Co. Andrew Plennert told the Madison AP the taste is “more common than people realize.” And that it’s typically used to hide the bitter or harsh taste in products such as yogurt and medicine.
That led to some online digging, and I soon came across a common food additive called castoreum.
Castoreum is often used for vanilla, raspberry and strawberry flavoring. You’ll see it on the ingredients list of packaging as Natural Flavoring. Frozen dairy products is one of the food items in which it is commonly used.
And sure…it’s natural.
Castoreum comes from sacs inside a beaver’s pelvis which secrete the stuff they use to spray on their turf. Or as Wikipedia puts it…
“…castoreum is the yellowish secretion of the castor sac in combination with the beaver’s urine, used during scent marking of territory.”
The FDA lists castoreum as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food additive. Good to know, I guess.
People all over the world eat a lot of funky things. What’s weird to you is normal to someone in another country.
Still…you have to wonder if the reason the secret ingredients of Blue Moon ice cream have been kept secret all these years is because everyone would be completely grossed out if they knew the truth.
The Beaver Butt Blue Moon Theory is only a theory. But it’s as good as any other.
Did Someone Leak the Secret Recipe?
Even if Blue Moon ice cream really does have beaver butt juice in it – you may be able to recreate the ice cream at home (sans castoreum).
There are dozens of recipes claiming to have captured this hard-to-define flavor. But one creamy concoction seems to have risen to the top.
You’ll find it in the dessert section of Food.com. That’s where the enigma that is Chef #218515 left his or her recipe. It seems possible this chef may have cracked the code.
Many other recipes call for things like pineapple and blue curacao liqueur. But this recipe keeps it pretty simple. Flavors include raspberry, lemon and vanilla pudding. You can use lemon oil or extract and raspberry oil or pureed raspberries. Some say the vanilla pudding is what makes the difference.
Those who’ve reviewed this recipe all give it a top-rating of 5 stars. Reviewers include Wisconsinites who claim this person hit the nail on the head.
WhooNEW Reader Mission – If you have an ice cream maker at home, try out this Blue Moon Ice Cream recipe and let us know what you think!
The anonymous posting of this recipe makes it even more interesting. Could this be the Edward Snowden of ice cream? The Julian Assange of dessert recipes?
Blue Moon ice cream is the only recipe ever posted by Chef #218515. This is all that is written in the “About Me” section.
“I’m too busy cooking to fill out this field. Check back soon.”
The recipe was posted on May 27th, 2005. No one ever heard from Chef #218515 on Food.com again.
The Truth is Out There…
Somebody has to know what really makes up the flavor of Blue Moon ice cream.
Whether it’s an independent ice cream parlor that makes its own or a jilted former employee of Edgar A. Weber & Co. who was once sworn to secrecy and now wants payback.
Whatever the case may be, WhooNEW will keep looking until we find the answers.
Until then…we’ll have to keep wondering, making guesses and developing theories.
Because – from my research – the only thing that seems to be an undeniable fact about Blue Moon ice cream is that it turns your poop green.
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