Superman Ice Cream - Gastro Obscura


Superman Ice Cream

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a classic Midwestern treat!

Superman ice cream is comically bright, but this specialty of the Midwestern United States isn’t just dyed to mimic superhero garb. It’s three different flavors in one, and two of them are as regionally specific as the tricolor treat itself.

The ice cream blend has no official affiliation with DC Comics and doesn’t even have a set flavor profile. The only prerequisite to being Superman ice cream is getting the colors right—a glaring combination of red, yellow, and blue.

Stroh’s Brewery, in Detroit, is often credited with developing the original Superman blend. Why was a brewery producing ice cream? It was the 1920s, and the company had to branch into legal fare after Prohibition banned their usual business. Their version included three flavors: lemon, Red Pop (based on a local strawberry soda), and Blue Moon. The exact makeup of the latter flavor is a lingering Midwestern mystery. 

Rumored to be made of everything from Froot Loops to marshmallows, Blue Moon is a Smurf-colored enigma with murky origins. Though there are many producers of the flavor, there’s an ongoing debate over which key ingredients create its signature fruity sweetness. Home cooks attempting to recreate the flavor agree that only one person, who goes by “Chef #218515” of, came closest. The chef’s recipe calls for raspberry flavoring, lemon oil, and vanilla pudding mix. The recipe temporarily vanished, but other websites published it in the interim.

Another dairy company eventually purchased Stroh’s and rebranded Superman as “Super Rainbow.” Other companies followed with their own interpretations. In Michigan, Hudsonville’s “Super Scoop” and supermarket chain Meijer’s “Scooperman” combine black cherry, Blue Moon, and vanilla. In Wisconsin, Cedar Crest makes “Super Madness” with swirls of blue raspberry, cherry, and vanilla. Meanwhile, Ohio residents can enjoy UDF Inc.’s blend of vanilla (dyed yellow and blue) and cherry.

Despite its rarity outside the Midwest, Superman ice cream is so ubiquitous in the area that locals often grow up thinking it’s universally popular. If kids all around the world were given the opportunity to stain their mouths and clothes with the same vibrant scoops, it probably would be.

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rachelrummel rachelrummel