It Sure Is Good, Guys and Gals!

17, May 2017

If you’re from this area or have lived here for some time, those words—the tagline for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard—instantly conjure thoughts of summer and the quintessential St. Louis frozen treat: a concrete you can turn upside down without spilling a drop.

On many summer evenings the lines at Ted Drewes curl through the parking lot, cramming in as many people craving a frozen fix as possible. So what’s the draw? The classic real estate motto “location, location, location” may have had something to do with it at one point. In 1941, Ted Drewes Sr. opened his third frozen-custard stand along what was then known as Watson Road or Route 66, just about at the city limits. As Ted Drewes Jr. recalls: 

He also noted that his parents were "really smart in one way—they understood the importance of the automobile." And he was right: The third Ted Drewes location became one of the most iconic places along the Mother Road, even up to today.

Of course, the tasty frozen custard itself also reels in the crowds. Over the years the recipe for it has remained the same, but the equipment has not. In our current Route 66: Main Street Through St. Louis exhibit, you can see the frozen-custard machine Ted Drewes Sr. used when he opened his third stand. Interestingly, the process hasn’t changed much from this early 1940s machine to today’s more elaborate ones. There’s still a place to pour in the liquid mix and a place for it to come out transformed into the confection known as frozen custard.

Color photo of the 1941 frozen custard machine in MHM's "Route 66" exhibitThe 1941 frozen-custard machine on display in our Route 66 exhibit. See it now through July 16!

A couple years ago, I took Ted Drewes Jr. into our storeroom to record an interview for the Route 66 exhibit while standing next to the artifact. As soon as he spotted the machine he approached it much like an old friend, reminiscing about how it worked and commenting on how old it looked. He also shared the secret ingredient, courtesy of his father:

Right before he died in 1968, he said, “one thing . . . don’t ever quit using good vanilla.” And to this day, we buy the best vanilla.

So they use really good vanilla and lots of eggs, but remove all the calories.

—Sharon Smith, Curator of Civic and Personal Identity

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