The White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer – Then and Now

By on July 1, 2009

The ice cream maker you buy today is no longer rooted in the tradition of small town manufacturing. As more and more goods are manufactured overseas consumers are being forced to rethink the definition of quality.

Explore with me the fabled history of the White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer Co., some common ice cream freezer complaints, and suggestions to keep your ice cream making experience a happy one.


A Brief History of White Mountain Ice Cream Makers

The Good Old Days 1872-1962

“The White Mountain Freezer Company which manufactures ice cream makers is the largest establishment of its kind in the world. The company began business in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1872. Thomas Sands being the inventor was the proprietor and manager. The enterprise was a success from the start and greatly expanded its business until 1881, when its factory was burned.

Mr. Sands carried on the business until 1888 when a corporate company was formed and he disposed of his entire interest. The company is organized with a paid-up capital of $100,000. Nearly every piece of machinery used in the business – some of it is novel and intricate – was invented for, and patents are owned by White Mountain Freezer.

After complete destruction in the Nashua fire on May 4, 1930 it was moved to Broad Street. In 1963, the company was sold to the Alaska Freezer Company of Winchendon, Massachusetts.”

This is as far as the historical account goes, so I did a little digging to bring the story up to date.

1963 to Present

In 1974, an investor group, headed by William H. Potter, Jr., purchased the company and renamed it White Mountain Freezer, Inc. Mr. Potter bought out his partners in 1981 and remained President until the company was sold to Rival, a division of Sunbeam, sometime in the late 80′s or early 90′s.

Finally, as recently as 3 or 4 years ago, Jarden Corp. (Coleman, Ball, etc.) bought out Rival and began manufacturing White Mountain Freezers in China. Not coincidentally, this is when complaints about the ice cream maker started to surface.

Not All Ice Cream Maker Complaints Are Created Equal

Consumer complaints generally break down into two categories: legitimate and unjustified. The first covers areas like mechanical breakdowns and poor customer service. The second category is usually the result of pilot error or unreasonable expectations.

Out of the 150 or so reviews I read, the most serious complaint (3 in all) was premature motor failure. Fortunately, the breakdowns occurred under warranty and were replaced; although the customer was responsible for shipping costs.

One way to get around any possibility of motor failure is to buy a hand crank freezer. They’re not only less expensive than the motorized version, the hand crank model actually churns out ice cream faster.

Another infrequent, though none the less annoying complaint, had to do with the staves of the barrel drying out and separating. This, according to one reviewer, can be remedied by keeping a small amount of water in the bottom of the barrel between uses.

You can’t blame the ice cream machine for disappointing results if you fail to read and follow the instructions – yet many first time users obviously skipped this important first step when they complain of ending up with soup instead of ice cream on their first try.

The reason why the mix won’t freeze is simple; it’s not cold enough. The cause for this is usually insufficient or poorly distributed rock salt – a key ingredient necessary to lower the freezing point of water. Here’s a tip from a reviewer to get the ice/salt mixture just right.

“Starting with the ice, alternate 8 cups of ice and 1 cup of rock salt until the bucket is full. The ice cream is finished when the machine stops churning; about 1 hour – works fine every time, hope this helps.”

If you like to harden off your ice cream a bit more, drain the water from the bucket, refill with ice and salt, and let stand for a couple more hours.

Noise. I’ll never understand how anybody can complain about the sound of an ice cream maker. When I was a kid and heard the unmistakable whine of the ice cream machine I jumped for joy at the prospect of bowl after bowl of sweet creamy goodness, even if it meant another batch of Tutti Frutti, my Dad’s favorite recipe.

If you suffer from an extreme aversion to noise, here are a few suggestions: Ear muffs, iPod, Dairy Queen, or buy a long extension cord and put it in your neighbor’s yard.

By the way, if you have an older model ice cream freezer with a galvanized canister that needs re-tinning I hear these folks do a good job at a fair price.

ARCHER TINNING & RE-TINNING COMPANY

1019 WEST 47TH STREET

CHICAGO, IL 60609

PHONE (773) 927-7240

A Sweet Dilemma

If you’ve been shopping for a 6 quart ice cream maker you already know the choices are limited to the Rival brand and a scant few others. So you have to make a choice, do I go with the White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer and its legion of loyal followers, despite the off chance of a mechanical problem, or do I keep looking?

If you choose to keep looking, you do have other options. One is the Classic Electric / Crank Ice Cream Maker by Kitchen Selectives. It gets high marks from reviewers and costs less than half as much as the White Mountain Freezer.

Tutti Frutti anyone?

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