Farm Collector Blogs > First Things

Homemade Ice Cream and Old Iron

by Leslie McManus


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For a certain segment of the population – the segment that loves old iron and ice cream in equal measure – an antique tractor show is about as good as it gets. We celebrate that confectionary confluence in this issue with “steam cream,” Terry Spahr’s unique twist on ice cream.

An active member of the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum, Terry paired an interest in a scale model Gaar-Scott steam engine with a passion for ice cream, and voila! Steam cream was born. Driven by sweet memories of his mother’s homemade ice cream, Terry sourced equipment old and new and then buckled down to the thankless job of creating recipes, testing processes and producing freezer can after freezer can of the stuff – 150 gallons in one year alone.

It is a tale that could make grown men and lady editors weep: Terry’s produced vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, blackberry, berry-berry-berry, fresh peach, coffee, butter pecan, banana, chocolate malt, chocolate marshmallow, rocky road #1 and #2, AC-DC (amaretto cherry dark chocolate), pumpkin pecan, chocolate Heath Bar crunch, chocolate marshmallow Heath Bar crunch, frozen lemonade, cherry pomegranate lemonade, raspberry lemonade, double chocolate sour cherry, hot cinnamon apple, rum raisin and gingerbread.

People are drawn to the old iron hobby for a variety of reasons: passion for history, interest in early mechanization, affection for a particular manufacturer. Nostalgia is another big driver – and what churns up more nostalgia than ice cream, particularly homemade ice cream? For most people, ice cream is a joy first experienced in early childhood and is ever after inextricably bound up in past and present. I well remember the look that settled on my dad’s face as he recalled, half a century later, boyhood memories of being given a dime and sent to the market (on foot! alone!) to fetch a quart of ice cream for the family on a summer afternoon.

In most of the country, show season is still a ways off. For now, you’ll have to make do with Dairy Queen. But it won’t be long until ice cream freezers powered by stationary engines or tractors or even scale model steam engines will stir up a powerfully sweet blend of nostalgia. And on a warm summer day, surrounded by the sounds and smells of a tractor show, it doesn’t get much better than that! FC