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Rainbow Ice Cream from the Dairy Store at the Jackson County Fair

The Truly Michigan Flavor Of Superman Ice Cream

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    Kids across Michigan instantly recognize those fruity swirls of red, yellow and blue you see in cups and cones, and usually also tongues and faces, all summer. But you may be surprised to learn that Superman Ice Cream isn’t well known outside of the Midwest.

    In fact, Superman Ice Cream is almost an exclusively Michigan flavor. There is some debate about its origins, but the prevailing story is that it was invented in Detroit by Stroh’s — yes, the same Stroh’s that makes beer. 

    Antiques at the Jackson County Fair: Stroh's Beer and Loud & Jackson Ice Cream (precursor to The Parlour) | Photo Rebecca Calkins
    Antiques at the Jackson County Fair included Stroh’s Beer and Loud & Jackson Ice Cream (precursor to The Parlour) | Photo Rebecca Calkins

    During prohibition, it was not uncommon for brewers to produce other food products, often soft drinks. Stroh’s was among them, but Stroh’s also tried branching out into other markets, including ice cream. The original Superman Ice Cream swirled Lemon ice cream with Blue Moon and Red Pop (two other uniquely Michigan flavors) to imitate the three primary colors of Superman’s costume.

    Though it has never been licensed or endorsed by DC Comics, this Midwest ode to the caped crusader has taken on a life of its own. Stroh’s Ice Cream was eventually sold off to Dean Foods, and the ice cream is now sold as Dean’s Country Fresh Super Rainbow across Michigan and Wisconsin with Vanilla, Red Pop and Blue Moon flavored ice cream.

    There isn’t only one famous rainbow-colored ice cream brand, though. Michigan favorite Hudsonville Ice Cream makes Super Scoop and Meijer brand Purple Cow offers Scooperman Ice Cream. Both products include the standard Vanilla and Blue Moon for the yellow and blue swirls, but they choose a different Michigan export, cherries, and favor Black Cherry ice cream for the red swirl.

    Superman Ice Cream from the Dairy Store at the Jackson County Fair | Photo Rebecca Calkins
    Superman Ice Cream from the Dairy Store at the Jackson County Fair | Photo Rebecca Calkins

    Armed with this knowledge, some Michigan pride and a sweet tooth, I went in search of a few local spots to get my rainbow fix. As a native Jacksonian, my first stop was The Parlour. This 1950s-style diner is a Jackson institution that boasts some of the biggest portions of ice cream, sundaes and shakes in all of Michigan.

    My next stop was Cascades Ice Cream Co., which features both hard and soft serve ice cream in the shadow of the world famous Cascade Falls. The final stop in my search was the Minnow Bucket (closed in 2020). This stop was a new discovery for me. After a swim at a nearby lake, ice cream was in order. Luckily this nearby ice cream shop, which also included a bait and tackle shop, did not disappoint. When the question is to cone or not to cone, I go with both!

    Superman Ice Cream at the Minnow Bucket in Jackson | Photo Rebecca Calkins
    Superman Ice Cream at the Minnow Bucket in Jackson | Photo Rebecca Calkins

    Of course the best ice cream spot in any town can be a point of contention, but here is Join in Jackson’s list of the best restaurants in Jackson MI, including ice cream parlours!

    Where do you go to get your Superman Ice Cream fix? Tell us in the comments!

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