Some ice cream flavors come and go, while some become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. This week: Blue Moon.

Having spent the majority of my life in Wisconsin, I’m often surprised to learn about some of the commonly consumed things here that aren’t really “a thing” elsewhere in the county. You mean fish fry on Fridays and Sunday hot ham and rolls aren’t a big deal nationally? People in other states don’t have ample access to bloody mary chasers and sugary brandy old fashioneds? Kringle isn’t widely available everywhere? Do I need to break out the “raw beef sandwiches” example, or do you get the idea?

Another culinary mainstay that’s most often enjoyed in Wisconsin (and very few other places with any regularity) is a springtime and summer standby that’s the state’s unofficial favorite when it comes to ice cream and frozen custard flavors. Of course, we’re referring to the almighty “Blue Moon,” which is an otherworldly flavor that somehow only has local appeal. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, Blue Moon’s popularity and availability are both largely limited to much of Wisconsin and Michigan—with only a few exceptions in other Upper Midwest states and other Rust Belt cities.

It’s tough to pin down exactly what this locally-beloved flavor, well, actually is. Some liken it to Froot Loops (or other similarly fruit-focused cereals). Other palates draw comparisons to things like bubble gum or cotton candy. Some freaks out there even detect hints of licorice or almond in it. Though its exact flavor profile is something of a mystery, that debated detail doesn’t make Blue Moon any less delicious.

Another uncertainty surrounding Blue Moon is in regard to its origin. Many claim Bill “Doc” Sidon, an Austrian chemist who made his way to Milwaukee and worked at a local flavor company called Petran in the 1950s, invented the flavor. Other rumors and theories range from the flavor being first served at an ice cream parlor in South Haven, Michigan or allegedly being available in the 1940s at establishments in Wisconsin, Michigan, and even as far away as Virginia. At this point, it appears nobody knows for sure, which only adds to the appeal.

Personally, I’m far less interested in where it all started than where I’m able to find it today. Ceder Crest serves scoops it up all around the region (including is regular availability at Babe’s in Milwaukee, as pictured in this article’s main image) and at the Summerfest grounds during festival (as shown above in the lower left part of this dish).

Regional ice cream makers also serve up their own riffs on Blue Moon, including Purple Door’s decidedly-less-blue “Purple Moon” rendition. Yo Factory on Farwell Ave. has a Blue Moon in its flavor rotation, too, if you’re looking for fix with fewer fat grams. If you’re in Milwaukee, and the rest of Wisconsin for that matter, you’ll find it if you look hard enough.

And Blue Moon doesn’t stop with ice cream and frozen yogurt. You can also enjoy it in frozen custard form. You’re bound to find it on the Kopp’s “flavor forecast” a few times annually. Over at Leon’s, Blue Moon made history somewhat recently when the longstanding frozen custard purveyor made it the establishment’s first new custard flavor to be offered in more than 30 years when it debuted in May 2021.

While we don’t know exactly when or where it was created, who invented it, where it can consistently be found, or even what it’s specifically supposed to taste like, Wisconsities should just be glad Blue Moon exists and, yes, that’s it’s “a thing” here.

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About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.