Melting the Mystery of Blue Moon Ice Cream

Milo eats Blue Moon ice cream

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”

  • Vanilla
  • Lemon
  • Pistachio
  • Coconut
  • Almond
  • Nutmeg
  • Marshmallow
  • Bubble Gum
  • Cantaloupe or Honeydew Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Ginger
  • Cotton Candy
  • Blue Curacao
  • Amaretto
  • Cake Frosting
  • Licorice
  • 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.

blue moon ice cream

Courtesy: WeberFlavors.com

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.

blue moon ice cream castoreum?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 MissionIf 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.

Click Here to Get This Tee Shirt

Click Here to Get This Tee Shirt

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.

Like WhooNEW on Facebook so we can keep in touch about this topic and share lots of other fun Wisconsin stories with you!

Watch Us Discuss the Mystery of Blue Moon Ice Cream on Local Five Live!

Comments

  1. Lindsay says:

    Love that you wrote about this..I can’t even remember what Blue Moon tastes like so I guess I’ll have to find some when I come back. :)

  2. L. Doodle says:

    Almond, definitely almond in there. I’m eating a bowl right now.

  3. I worked at Richardsons farm dairy when I was 15 and they made it themselves. know for a fact pineapple bits were in it and it tasted 100 times better then that superman crap.

  4. You can now find Blue Moon ice cream at Brr Kee’s in Pittsburgh, PA! They just made a special batch this week. Anyone in the Pittsburgh region, go check it out!

  5. Dear Kacey Steinbrinck, I’m still confused on how/why the story of Blue Moon is deeply rooted in Wisconsin”? I didnt see any supporting statments on that. And I’m also curious that if Schoenburg did thorough research, how did she miss the Hudsonville Creamery in Holland, Michigan who claim having the original flavor since 1926, another decade before the mentionings she found from the late 30s? I’d post a picture of the label if I could.
    I, too, moved from Michigan and I was completely and utterly BUMMED when I had settled in Montana and found out that there was NO Blue Moon and NO ONE had heard of it. Thank goodness for amazing people I met from back home (MI) about six weeks ago, that shipped two half gallons to me for Christmas just a few days ago! :-D I’ve been without for 15yrs!!!! And it tastes EXACTLY how I remember as a child. Regardless of who truly made/perfected it, I will always believe it to be originated in MI. And, that whatever is being shown in the pic, is not MY Blue Moon!! The Blue Moon I know and have always loved really IS the color of a smurf….its BLUE!! Not the light cotton candy color blue looking stuff like in the pic. And its DEFINITELY NOT the crap they have in Phoenix, AZ. There’s a little spot there that’s been claiming they have “blue moon” but in fact it actually some gross, wanabe replica, over-loaded with nerds candy…it was awful :( don’t eat it. Its not ANYWHERE NEAR being “Blue Moon”
    All in all, no matter what, the only ones telling ANY Blue Moon story should be people from Michigan and Wisconsin…. The ONLY two, TRUE keepers and makers of our rare and so VERY delicious flavor ice cream.
    #BlueMoonIsBest #EverybodyWantsIt

    • Rebecca – I think this article explained that there certainly were flavors called Blue Moon before the Doc Sidon version. However, that seems to be the “mainstream version” of Blue Moon most of us know of today.

      It could very well have originated in Michigan. I’d be interested in learning more about that Michigan Dairy if you’d like to share.

      Please realize – WhooNEW is not about hardcore journalism. We like to explore these stories for fun. It’s ice cream – not Watergate. Truth is – these kinds of origin stories are hard to pin down. First hamburger, first ice cream sundae, etc. But we think it’s fun to talk about. So thanks for chiming in!

      As for the picture and the color of the ice cream. I don’t know. The ice cream that particular place was serving comes from Chocolate Shoppe based in Madison, WI. And I would guess the color has more to do with how much dye is in the ice cream – not the flavor.

    • I’m eating Hudsonville Blue Moon right now! I’m not sure they are the original though..I have a container of Superman from Hudsonville in the freezer too and the package also says ‘original since 1926′.

  6. I NEVER want to know!!! I feel that finding out such information ruins the whole “Blue Moon” experience. Stop trying to be a spoil sport and just enjoy the damn ice cream like the rest of us. Sure, I do, get curious from time to time about what the flavor is and then I remember, its BLUE MOON. You should find out more things like what is a McDonalds hamburger ACTUALLY made from, and how the chicken nuggets made or how about all the GMO food, etc. I also believe that Taco Bell managed to pull a fast over on the American people, when it came down to the beef issue. All they had to do was say that they MAKE IT WITH real beef. NOT, it IS real beef, which what people wanted I thought? Bottom line, I more interested in where my food comes FROM, what is IN my food and HOW it was made/packaged vs knowing what created a flavor of ice cream or anything else for that matter…

    • Not trying to be a spoil sport at all Gingerly. I love Blue Moon Ice Cream – it’s one of my favorites. This story was just meant to be for fun. We’re not trying to uncover some crazy conspiracy.

      The Beaver Butt thing is just a goofy theory. I agree with you that the mystery and trying to guess is part of the experience. I was simply trying to bring that fun discussion up in the article. So don’t get bent out of shape and keep enjoying Blue Moon.

  7. C. Bristol says:

    I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan- and one of my favorite memories is having a big sugar cone of the magical blue stuff know as blue moon, nothing really can compare to that flavor!! As i recall it seemed like it was only to be had certain times of the year, i always got my ice cream fix at the meijer on plainfield ave. Such good childhood memories, and this summer when i returned home i was thrilled to find that meijer now carries it in half gallon cartons all year long!!

    • I live in southern Arizona and had some at Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction. Forgot to ask clerk where they got it from. Am originally from northern WI/UP

  8. Pistachios

  9. Jones’s Homemade Ice Cream on M-37 in Baldwin, MI has some of the best Blue Moon. They’ve been in business since 1942 ( a dozen years before my time). I think they’ve always carried Blue Moon, but not positive. Lots of other good flavors there as well, though I always need to get my Blue Moon fix when I’m there as I live in AZ. Hudsonville Dairy is a close second in my book. I think many like myself want to pin down the flavor so we can make it ourselves in the absence of a local source.

  10. Meg Hyland says:

    There has been a sighting of Blue Moon ice cream across the Atlantic! I am from De Pere but now I live in Anstruther on the east coast of Scotland, and there is a popular ice cream company around here called Jannettas (based in St Andrews). The Anstruther Fish Bar serves Jannettas ice cream, and on Friday I was shocked to see that Blue Moon was one of the flavours on offer. I got some, trying not to get my hopes up that I had found my favourite ice cream flavour, but to my shock it tasted VERY SIMILAR to Blue Moon! The taste was incredibly hard to pin down; neither my sister nor I could describe exactly what flavour it was. It had that thick, fruity taste, with a hint of the flavoured cookie-dough feel you get in the variety of Blue Moon called Play-Doh (I know Hansen’s used to serve it; it’s Blue Moon with fruit-flavoured cookie dough chunks). There were little pieces of blue raspberry licorice in it too. Perhaps this indefinable quality more than anything is what convinced me this was very close to Blue Moon, if not the exact flavour. It’s been over a year since I last had WI Blue Moon, but I am fairly confident that it was almost the same flavour. Jannetta’s claims to have over 100 flavours, but I have not found a list, and I’m not sure how they would have gotten the idea to offer this flavour. The Blue Moon Mystery continues…

Make a Comment! (We know you want to)