The scoop on Brookfield Ice Cream, dating back 98 years
Posted on January 05, 2024 | Alexander Chafe | 1 Comment
Dixie Cups, Jets, Chippers and Newfie Bullet ice cream treats were all made by Brookfield. Once a thriving manufacturing operation on the island, Brookfield brought the convenience of ready-made ice cream to N.L. Although operations on the island have since ceased, many still hold a special place in their heart for Brookfield Ice Cream and its sweet products.
Before Brookfield, Newfoundlanders didn’t have the convenience of fetching a frozen treat or a tub of ice cream from their freezer. Instead, they’d break out a churning contraption to start the two to three-hour-long process of making ice cream by hand. When Brookfield came along, it was a game-changer.
In 1926, the president of Brookfield Creamery in Truro, Nova Scotia travelled to Newfoundland to set up the province’s first-ever large-scale ice cream manufacturing operation. Brookfield Ice Cream initially opened on the east side of Water Street in downtown St. John’s and moved to its permanent home on LeMarchant Road in 1930.
Brookfield’s operations continuously evolved over time with updated manufacturing processes and a team that grew from a small staff of 18 to 160 employees by 1961. Its product line included staples like Polar Bars, Fudgesicles, Chippers, ice cream sandwiches and Dixie Cups. However, they also created unique items like Jets (orange or lime sorbet on a stick covered in chocolate) and Screwballs (ice cream shaped in a cone with a gumball prize). Tubs of ice cream were also available in a variety of flavours, including orange pineapple, a fan favourite.
“No ice cream has ever been able to beat Brookfield Ice Cream,” commented Brenda Lundrigan in a location-based Facebook group. She along with many others said that orange pineapple was their favourite Brookfield flavour.
A merger was initiated between Scotsburn and Brookfield Ice Cream in the 1980s, which led to the company’s first exports outside of N.L. in 1989. Products eventually started to bear Scotsburn’s logo; it acquired full interest in Brookfield Ice Cream in 1995 and continued to invest in new equipment to increase the production of novelty products. While most of the factory’s operations served the Canadian market, its products were once shipped to 28 countries around the world.
In 2016, it was announced that the Scotsburn ice cream factory in St. John’s, N.L. would cease operations. It was the end of an era and resulted in a loss of employment for 167 Newfoundlanders.
Although Brookfield Ice Cream is no more, many have fond memories of the brand and their favourite treats. As for the Brookfield factory on LeMarchant Road, the building still stands and is currently part of the Brookfield District revival project initiated by Ivy and Greg Hanley. While the original plan was to transform the building into condos, after the success of launching Urban Market 1919 nearby, they saw an opportunity to revitalize the area. Plans for the old ice cream factory now include space for a gym, retail store, restaurant and small manufacturing operations.
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