During my last blog series (Old Time Ice Cream Parlors), I ran across a story about a Detroit Ice Cream Parlor that started in 1875. The founder began selling candy but later added ice cream, ice cream sodas and sundaes. I debated long and hard about including this store in that blog series but didn’t because they no longer sell ice cream.
Still, I thought I should share this story with those who aren’t familiar with it. The store was named Sanders after its founder, Fred Sanders. Mr. Sanders was quite the ice cream innovator of his day. He originated the low stool and table height counters that became the standard for all ice cream parlors. He started the first carry-out service and created ice tray packages so customers could store ice cream at home. He was also the first to keep his ice cream cold using dry ice.
Some even credit Fred Sanders with inventing the ice cream soda to placate customers who came in for sweet cream sodas. As the story goes, the store’s milk and cream had gone sour. To his customers’ delight, Fred quickly replaced it with ice cream. The treat was an instant success causing Fred to hire more help — and add more posts for the customers’ horses.
One for incorporating innovations of the day, Fred Sanders bought an electric motor in the 1890s to crack ice for his freezers. The motor didn’t work to his liking, so Detroit Edison sent over a repairman to make certain it ran properly. It turns out Fred Sanders was in very good hands. That repairman turned out to be Henry Ford.
The Sanders operation continued to grow with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren stepping in to run it. At it’s peak in the 1970s, Sanders operated 58 stores and had ice cream in over 200 supermarkets. These days, Sanders sells chocolates, bakery items, coffee and cocoa. While the ice cream is gone, they still offer dessert toppings including a four pack of their “Sundae Best.”