Culver's Custard: 11 Facts About The Frozen Dairy Treat And Why It's So Delicious - The Daily Meal (2024)

Restaurants Fast Food

Culver's Custard: 11 Facts About The Frozen Dairy Treat And Why It's So Delicious - The Daily Meal (1)

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ByBryn Gelbart|

If you've never been to a Culver's before, you don't know what you're missing. And that's probably for the best because if you did, you would be salivating 24/7.

The Midwest-based fast food chain is known for fresh, never-frozen ButterBurgers, delicious and unique sides like Wisconsin cheese curds, and above all, frozen custard. This delicious dairy treat is a specialty of the franchise, but there is a lot more to Culver's frozen custard than meets the eye.

While it might seem like "basically just ice cream," there is actually quite a bit that makes frozen custard distinct from ice cream — especially the way Culver's does it. With a rotating list of special flavors and a stable of custard-based treats, there islikely going to be something for every type of sweet tooth. But if knowledge is your craving, then we've got you more than covered here. Even the most dedicated Culver's diners might not know all of these facts about the beloved dairy treat and how it's made.

1. Culver's is a family business

Culver's Custard: 11 Facts About The Frozen Dairy Treat And Why It's So Delicious - The Daily Meal (2)

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The origins of the Culver's franchise date back to the 1980s. After owning an A&W and then another business called the Farm Kitchen, longtime restaurateurs George and Ruth Culver had retired from the food industry — or so they thought. In the 1970s, they were joined by their son Craig Culver, who had years of fast food business experience at McDonald's, to buy back the A&W in Sauk City, Wisconsin. After six years in operation, the family once again sold the business, only to reacquire it two years later and turn it into the very first Culver's.

The first Culver's opened in Sauk City in 1984, under the name Culver's Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers. At the time, frozen custard was an unknown commodity, and before Culver's, few people had even heard of a ButterBurger. So while the restaurant struggled to compete with Dairy Queen and Hardee's at first, eventually the family's passion and authenticity won out. By 1988, Culver's had begun to franchise and expand with other locations across Wisconsin.

Soon, the signature frozen custard was a statewide phenomenon. Today, Culver's has over 800 restaurants in 26 states throughout the Midwest, Southwest, and Southern United States.

2. Higher egg and fat content are what make Culver's custard unique

There are a couple of key factors that make Culver's custard different from ice cream. In fact, these differences make it a legally distinct product from ice cream, which means you aren't allowed to sell a product as "custard" unless it meets these specific guidelines. The main determining factor in sussing out a custard is the higher egg yolk content in the mixture. Legally, frozen custard must contain "1.4% egg yolk solids by weight of the finished food," which is more than ice cream.

According to the Culver's website, Culver's frozen custard contains 1.4% pasteurized egg yolks and greater than 10% butterfat by weight in each handspun batch. Anything with less than the required percentage of egg yolks or butterfat is technically ice cream and cannot legally be sold as frozen custard.

These specific ratios are part of what gives Culver's custard its silky, smooth texture. But they are far from the only reason this dessert is so delicious and refreshing.

3. Culver's frozen custard has less air than ice cream

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Believe it or not, a solid amount (up to half in some instances) of what's in your ice cream is just air. That's right, the very stuff we breathe to survive. Air isn't listed as a main ingredient in any ice cream recipe, but the compound makes up anywhere from 30% to 50% of the total volume of any given ice cream. So how does that much air make its way into a batch of America's favorite frozen treat?

Just like whipped cream, when ice cream is mixed, air naturally gets folded into the mixture. This is known as overrun, and it can impact the density and melting speed of a product. While ice creams can have an overrun percentage as high as 100% (doubling the volume of the cream with air), Culver's custard only has 20% to 30% overrun per batch. This means that Culver's frozen dairy treat will likely be more dense than whichever ice cream brand you prefer. When it comes to texture, this is another crucial difference between ice cream and frozen custard.

4. Culver's uses farm-fresh dairy

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Culver's is proud to make note of its farm-fresh dairy ingredients. The fast food brand has been working with some of the same dairy providers to get its milk and cream for its signature frozen custard for decades. With such a dedication to its partners, it is no wonder that Culver's has kept up its high quality standards since 1984, despite extensive franchising and rapid expansion. Culver's stays true to the ingredients it uses, giving the custard an extra element of freshness.

Sourcing dairy from family farms doesn't only impact the frozen custard at Culver's, but all of the cheese you'll get at the chain as well.If you've ever had a ButterBurger or one of Culver's squeaky delicious cheese curds, you know how much of a game-changer fresh dairy can be. If you can't get enough cheese from either the burger or the curds, why don't you combine the two? Oh wait, Culver's already didthat for you.

5. There's only one Flavor of the Day at a time

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If you've visited any of these establishments, or even driven by one and gawked at its sign, you will know Culver's operates on a Flavor of the Day system. This means that at all times, there are three frozen custard flavors on the menu: vanilla, chocolate, and whatever specialty flavor has been chosen that day.

Flavors of the Day vary from location to location and change every single day. So, for example, if you have two or more Culver's in your town or city, they will all have different Flavors of the Day. And if you go the next day, each location will have something entirely different as the daily flavor.

While sometimes brand-new flavors are introduced, the Flavor of the Day usually pulls from Culver's current rotation of over 40 specialty flavors. These are constantly in flux, as evidenced by the sheer amount of candy- and fruit-based flavors of custard that the Culver's corporation has churned out over the past three decades.

6. Culver's has created over 100 unique flavors of custard

Pardon the pun, but Culver's has been churning out new flavors of frozen custard for almost 40 years now. In that time, the brand has expanded from Wisconsin favorite, to regional chain, to a nationwide force of nature that the experts here at The Daily Meal say makes better food than In-N-Out. Culver's business revolves around a rotating flavor list, which means that in this time the chain has introduced over 100 unique flavors.

Culver's has claimed that over 100 of its recipes have been proven to be "taste bud pleasers." Implicitly, this means that there have likely been well over 100 custard recipes that have hit the stores in the form of Culver's Flavor of the Day. These range from classic ice cream flavors like Turtle, to fresh fruit-based options like Peach Crisp. And of course we can't forget all the Oreo and Reese's-based flavors. Who doesn't like candy in their ice cream? Oops, we meant custard.

7. Culver's offers more than 30 toppings and mix-ins

While there are technically only three custard flavors on the menu at any given time, the chain encourages its customers to get a little bit jiggy with it. Which is to say, your custard experience is in your own hands. Culver's allows you to create your own custard dessert by way of the dozens of toppings and mix-ins featured on the menu.

Culver's has over 30 frozen custard toppings to choose from, divided into a number of categories: candies, fruits, nuts, ooey gooey, and chunky. These are mostly self-explanatory, although while "ooey gooey" encompasses sauces such as hot fudge and peanut butter, it also includes liquids like espresso. "Chunky" is a catch-all for all kinds of sweet additions, including cookie dough, brownies, and cheesecake bites.

No matter where your sweet tooth wants to take you, there will always be something on the Culver's menu that will satisfy you. Even when you aren't into whichever Flavor of the Day is featured, you can more or less just make your own.

8. Culver's custard is made fresh each day in small batches

In addition to sourcing high-quality fresh dairy, Culver's also makes its custard fresh in-house each day. The restaurant's frozen custard is made in small batches andslow-churned to perfection, multiple times a day. No matter what flavor or custard treat you order, you know you are getting a product that has been made that very day. It doesn't get much fresher than that.

This process of slow-churning ensures that the store's custard will always be scooped from a fresh batch. Culver's isn't an ice cream parlor where a flavor will sit in its bin for as many days (or weeks?) as it takes tosell out. So what do they do with the excess?

Well, if you walk into a Culver's restaurant, you will see it has a freezer full of pints made up of previous Flavors of the Day. Each pint is marked and dated, so you know exactly when the batch was churned. If you can't find a flavor you like on the menu, turn to the freezer and grab a pint of whichever of the dozens of flavors calls your name. Even if it was made a week ago, the custard will still be fresher than your average grocery store pint.

9. Culver's custard is served 25 to 30 degrees warmer than ice cream

Due to the many scientific differences between ice cream and Culver's frozen custard, the latter is not served at the same temperature that is typical of ice cream. Instead, Culver's custard tends to be served somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees warmer than the temperature that most ice creams are packaged at. Oh, and we are talking Fahrenheit here — Culver's is an American brand, after all.

According to Culver's, ice cream is typically frozen to -10 degrees Fahrenheit when it is packaged, because often ice cream will be stored in a freezer for months. Since Culver's frozen custard is batched fresh each day, that also means it is served fresh throughout the day. The custard needs to be served at a temperature between 18 and 21degrees Fahrenheit, or else it would start to form ice crystals, which would ruin the velvety texture that the rest of the custard-making process works so hard to achieve. From the start of the process to serving it up in a store, care and consistency is what ensures Culver's custard stays delicious.

10. Culver's also serves shakes, sundaes, and its signature Concrete Mixers

Culver's Custard: 11 Facts About The Frozen Dairy Treat And Why It's So Delicious - The Daily Meal (11)

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If you've gotten this far and haven't driven to the nearest Culver's already, you might be wondering about the many other custard-based offerings on the chain's menu. If you aren't feeling a scoop or a cone, Culver's has got you covered with the rest of its custard options.

The other custard choices on Culver's menu include shakes, malts, and sundaes, as one might expect. The chain also serves up its own custardy take on Dairy Queen's Blizzards in the form of Concrete Mixers. Thicker than shakes and full of mix-ins, this is what you get at Culver's when you are ready for a seriously hefty dessert. While you can get pre-made flavors like the Chocolate Concrete Mixer with Reese's, you are more than free to create your own from the mix-ins and ingredients Culver's has on its menu. We would be remiss to not also mention the Root Beer Float. Culver's makes its own signature root beer that, on its own, is pretty tasty. Add a scoop of custard to that sucker to elevate it to float level, though, and now you have yourself a nostalgic dessert.

Each of these custard-based treats can be made with vanilla, chocolate, or the Flavor of the Day custard. Although for the float, we would recommend sticking to vanilla.

11. Culver's even sold frozen custard cakes for a time

Culver's Custard: 11 Facts About The Frozen Dairy Treat And Why It's So Delicious - The Daily Meal (12)

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We never got a chance to try Culver's frozen custard cakes, and frankly, it's one of our biggest food regrets in life. While these delicacies are no longer available for purchase or listed on the website, there is ample evidence these once existed and that they were delicious.

Based on the information given by a Culver's frozen custard facts sheet circa 2007, Culver's used to sell "a variety of frozen custard cakes for small and large social gatherings." You can even google and find pictures of what these elevated ice cream cakes used to look like. However, it seems that as far back as 2014, these "Concrete Cakes" were discontinued.

In a post from November 2014, Culver's fan Joshua Morrill asked via the company's Facebook page whether they still sold these cakes. In a comment response, the official Culver's account confirmed that the cakes are a thing of the past.

Culver's Custard: 11 Facts About The Frozen Dairy Treat And Why It's So Delicious - The Daily Meal (2024)
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