sweet tradition
Applegate Farm will begin taking orders for ice cream Santas, trees and turkeys this week. The same pewter molds from the 1930s when the tradition began at the farm are still used today.

By Jaimie Julia Winters

Applegate Farm has been serving up sweet little frozen holiday treats since the 1930s.

Beginning this week, the farm will take about 100 orders for ice cream turkeys, Santas, bells, trees and wreaths. Some will request them in your basic vanilla and chocolate, while others will want peppermint, pistachio or mint chocolate chip flavors. The four-inch confections will grace many Montclairites’ deserts plates on Thanksgiving and Christmas, as they have for decades.

“It’s a real tradition for many families,” said general manager Harold Thompson.

Donna Grieves, who grew up on the farm in the 1940s and 1950s when it was run by her grandfather, Frank Oliver, and her father, Donald Littlefield, recalled the orders pouring in for the hand-molded treats during the holidays.

Littlefield introduced the new seasonal novelty frozen treats, such as Santas and turkeys, for sale at bakeries and markets throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Today, Applegate Farm, now owned by Jason Street, is the only place to get the traditional desserts.

“I remember the big heavy molds that were used to create those holiday forms,” Grieves said.

Those pewter molds are still used today by Thompson and his team who still create the traditional treats by hand for those who special order them. The molds are a little banged up from years of production, but the method is still the same as it was in the 1930s: the secret, Thompson says, is dry ice.

The two-sided molds are packed on each side with ice cream, closed and then set using dry ice, which reaches a temperature of minus-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the ice cream sets, the mold is run under water, allowing the treat to be removed from the mold.

The treats are then packed in more dry ice to keep their form. It takes about two hours to make 10 pieces, Thompson said.

“My tip to those who order is to get them right home and put in the back of the freezer until they are ready to be served,” said Thompson.

Orders come from customers who grew up with the tradition and now want to showcase the treats at their holiday dinners, said Thompson.

Each ice cream piece is $5.95, and although the farm has a 48-hour turnaround, Thompson suggests getting orders in early.