This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Editor's note: In this regular series, The Tribune explores the once-favorite places of Utahns, from restaurants to recreation to retail.
A remnant of a Salt Lake City icon now exists only in the form of a giant double-scoop ice cream cone.
The Snelgrove name has been removed from the once popular, now bygone ice cream factory on 2100 South in Sugar House. In coming weeks, the names Dreyer and Nestle will appear in its place.
Originally located at about 1000 East and 2100 South, the first Snelgrove ice cream shop was established by Charles Snelgrove in 1929.
It wasn't until the 1960s that the family business expanded and a manufacturing facility and a parlor were built just a few blocks west, at 850 E. 2100 South.
The parlor, with its traditional soda fountain at a bar with stools, was a popular spot for families and date nights. Polished black marble floors and big candy counter created a 1950s atmosphere.
For some in the Salt Lake Valley, Snelgrove was the first job they ever had.
And the ice cream was top-notch, a "super premium" grade, said Dave Peterson, who began working at Snelgrove in 1984 at age 18.
"The whole thing was hands-on here. When we'd make strawberry ice cream, we would hand-cut fresh strawberries up and sugar them up," said Peterson, who still works at the Dreyer facility making ice cream. "We hand-filled everything. There was no automation to it."
Other favorite flavors were peach (made with hand-sliced peaches, Peterson said), burnt almond fudge and Canadian vanilla, a recipe acquired by Charles' son, Laird Snelgrove, from "a guy in Canada," said Jim Fivas, who now works at the Dreyer facility, managing the supply chain.
"My dad worked up the street, and every day it seemed like we would drop by. We'd come down here, and I would get a shake," Fivas said. "As you got older, you would bring a girl here. Especially on Monday nights, families would come in for Family Home Evening."
The familiar sign on 2100 South was built in 1962, created by the Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO). It became such a fixture in the Sugar House area that it was featured on a 2002 Winter Olympics pin.
The sign was YESCO's "first three-dimensional design," said Lynne Olson, a historian and member of the Sugar House Community Council. "It was built on a metal frame with wire mesh on it to give it its form ... that was covered in fiberglass."
The original sign was painted brown and pink: a double chocolate and strawberry ice cream cone.
"They couldn't keep up with the demand for their ice cream. ... [Laird Snelgrove] said that when people came in, they ordered the chocolate and strawberry double cone, 'just like on the sign,' " Olson said.
Snelgrove Ice Cream began to spread; at one point, five franchised shops were open throughout the valley.
But the premium-grade ice cream brand began to struggle as the industry moved toward cheaper, mass-produced products. In 1991, the Snelgrove family sold to MKD Distributors, a frozen-dessert distribution company based in Washington state. Dave Mutzel, who worked for MKD, became a hands-on presence at the factory.
Laird Snelgrove had a vintage Mustang that he would drive in parades to represent Snelgrove, but it was repossessed when MKD bought the company, because he had financed it through his dad's business. Mutzel had wanted the car only for parades and advertising, and a few years later, he fixed the car up and gave it to Laird at a company-wide birthday party in his honor.
Even under new ownership, Dreyer continued to make the Snelgrove recipe and distribute the ice cream in grocery stores throughout Utah, keeping the distinguishable taste alive.
Snelgrove ice cream had a "cooked flavor," Fivas and Peterson said. The cream was cooked, an old process that Dreyer initially continued.
"It was a subtle difference, but you can taste it," Peterson said.
In 2008, Dreyer announced it would stop producing Snelgrove ice cream because of business realities, a company spokesperson told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Squirrel Brothers Ice Cream, at 605 E. 400 South, formerly a Snelgrove franchise, was the last shop to offer Snelgrove brand ice cream. The building is now occupied by a Jimmy John's, but the double cone still spins atop the sandwich shop, albeit painted completely black.
The cone on the beloved Sugar House ice cream parlor is already spinning again. In the coming weeks, the names Nestle and Dreyer will be added and, Dreyer factory manager Laura Adams said, the ice cream scoops' original flavors er, colors will be restored. And what will become of the original Snelgrove neon lettering? Dreyer has promised to give it to the Sugar House Community Council, which plans to preserve it along with other historical signs in the area.
"We still have people who knock on the door and ask us to serve ice cream," Adams said.
Since she joined the company in 2008, Adams has been "battling to come out with a limited edition Snelgrove ice cream," she said. "We haven't done it yet, but it doesn't mean it may never happen."
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