After eating one of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and screaming during the drops of Coney Island’s Cyclone Roller Coaster, eating frozen custard is the next logical course of action. These quintessential summer activities were all created in this summer haven in southern Brooklyn. Although the roller coaster provides a thrill and the hot dogs satiate visitors, the custard is responsible for saving Coney Island visitors from the heat–and for improving Coney Island’s reputation.
Custard has been popular since Archie and Elton Kohr invented the treat in 1919. After humble beginnings delivering fresh milk and homemade ice cream to homes and restaurants, the brothers eventually wanted to expand their business. Their uncle gifted them an ice cream machine called the “Meisenhelter Ice Cream Freezer.” This machine created soft ice cream, but customers in Delaware were not a fan.
Wanting to find more success, the brothers traveled to Coney Island to sell their treat, which they called “Frozen Dessert.” When the Kohr brothers started selling ice cream, it was an instant success. The brothers sold more than 18,000 cones for just a nickel during the first weekend of creation.
However, New York City heat did not bode well for their ice cream. After much experimentation, the brothers decided to add eggs to their esteemed ice cream, finding that the addition created a smoother substance. Not only that, but the eggs allowed the custard to stay cooler longer than ice cream. They called this new treat “Frozen Custard.”
Elton Kohr wanted to create his own branch of the business after years of success at Coney Island. Departing from southern Brooklyn, he opened Kohr’s Frozen Custard in Atlantic City in 1924. Although the original Kohr custard shop no longer exists in Coney Island, their custard lives on. Kohr’s Frozen Custard is still open on the Boardwalks at Seaside Heights and Casino Pier on the Jersey Shore. Within Coney Island, custard is available within Luna Park, Coney Island’s resident amusement park, and on the boardwalk. The Kohr brothers did not know that their simple addition would sweep the nation with such fury.
Following custard’s rise in popularity at Coney Island, those outside of New York heard of the craze. Eventually the creamy custard made its way to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and became a staple Midwestern food. In addition to cheese, Wisconsin later became known for its custard production. Milwaukee custard creameries quickly adopted the Kohr concept. As more custard shops opened there, Milwaukee became the “Unofficial Frozen Custard Capital of the World.”
Despite Milwaukee’s title, Coney Island will always be custard’s true home, evident in its widespread amount of custard. As New Yorkers travel to Coney Island from the five boroughs, they can choose the classic creamy custard to cool off. New York summer would be incomplete without Cyclone screams and custard cones.
Next, check out the top 10 secrets of Coney Island’s Cyclone!