Ted Drewes is a St. Louis institution. They sell custard ice cream out of two locations on the south-side of St. Louis and have been doing so for over 75 years. They've been featured on a number of travel and food shows on cable television over the years. It's a must-stop when we're in St. Louis for Cardinal games.
Ted Drewes, Sr. was a tennis star who came from the St. Louis area. He opened his first ice cream stand in Florida in 1930 and then came back to open two locations in St. Louis the following year. Only one of the two original stores, the one on South Grand (see map) is in business today. In 1941, Drewes put in a second location on Chippewa Ave. (see map), which was also Route 66 that went from Chicago to L.A. Over the years, the Chippewa location expanded and became the defacto flagship store for Ted Drewes.
Ted Drewes, Jr. took over the family business in the 50's. He had been approached many times to franchise the Ted Drewes custard, but each time he has declined. He said that franchising "cheapens" the product and you lose control of the quality of the custard. Good for him.
In the winter time when the custard stands were closed, Ted Drewes, Jr. would sell Christmas trees in the lots of the two locations. Each fall, Drewes would go to Nova Scotia to hand pick fir trees to be cut down and shipped to St. Louis to sell in his two lots. The Chippewa location now stays open up through Christmas to sell custard along with the Christmas trees.
Ted Drewes is famous for their custard ice cream, which is only available in vanilla. They add flavorings to the vanilla custard to make the different varieties of flavors. One of the famous offerings from Ted Drewes are their "concretes" - a combination of the vanilla custard, flavors and other ingredients that are then thick-blended and served in a cup. The cup is turned upside down before being served to the customer to show that the custard is thick and rich.
When we were in St. Louis earlier this year, we stopped at the Ted Drewes on S. Grand. I felt kind of bad as our friends, Scott and Marcia, spent a good portion of the late morning and early afternoon running us around to get the old ROKNROL Impala to a place to get it worked on and then to take us out to the airport so I could rent a car. I asked them if they wanted to join us for a Ted Drewes, like we always do out of habit, but they begged off saying they needed to get back to Iowa.
Cindy and I then went and had lunch at Arcelia's and we were getting ready to leave and go back to Iowa. Cindy said, "Aren't we going to Ted Drewes?" I wasn't all that hungry after a nice lunch at Arcelia's, but Ted Drewes did sound kinda good.
There was already a steady stream of customers coming into the Ted Drewes stand on S. Grand around 2 p.m. The stand and parking lot at the S. Grand location is about 50% smaller than the one on Chippewa. And this one doesn't do the business the one on Chippewa does, that's for sure.
Here's the menu board for Ted Drewes. I get the same thing each time I go - the Lime Concrete. Cindy is partial to the Hawaiian - pineapple, coconut, bananas and macadamia nuts. I don't care for coconut or bananas so I'd probably starve to death if I was on a deserted island. But she seems to really like it. I've always wanted to try the Terra Mizzou - which is a take-off on the Italian tiramisu and inserting the nickname for the University of Missouri into the title. It's an addition of some sort of secret coffee flavored chocolate and pistachios. I'm going to try it someday, but I just love the Lime Concretes.
We both got smalls and our orders were up in less than three minutes. It took us about 10 minutes to eat them, they're that good. I almost ordered a second one, but decided against it. We contemplated grabbing a couple for Scott and Marcia and putting them on ice to take back home to them, but it would have meant running to find a cooler somewhere and then packing them in ice to bring back. And that wouldn't have been any guarantee they would have stayed fully hard by the time we got back home four hours later. But we also determined that a Ted Drewes had to be eating in the parking lot at the stand where you got it.
Ted Drewes is tough to beat. We have Whitey's here in the Quad Cities, but they only offer a couple of custard items. The rich taste, the thick texture, the head-ache from eating it too fast makes Ted Drewes what it is. It is a slice of heaven in the Midwest.