In the Beginning
The story of Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream goes back to the 1800s, when an industrious young man named Nathaniel Main from Pawcatuck, Connecticut, started a home delivery milk and ice cream business from the back of his horse-drawn wagon. Fifteen years later, Nathaniel’s oldest son, Chester, got involved in the family business. Eventually, Chester’s daughter, Audrey, married her college sweetheart Randall Gifford and together they forged a splendid path that led to Skowhegan, Maine, and to the birth of Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream.
Moving to Maine
Randall and Audrey shared a common love of family and life’s simple pleasures that remains at the core of the family business today. They also grew up in the dairy business and from early on, were steeped in the tradition of delicious old-fashioned ice cream. After running a small milk business and ice cream shop for 17 years, they pulled up roots and moved to Randall’s home state of Maine…bringing their passion for ice cream right along with them. They purchased a small dairy in Farmington in 1971, and three years later purchased another dairy in Skowhegan, where the Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream plant remains today.
The family began creating small batches of creamy ice cream using Audrey’s parents’ recipes for strawberry, peach, wild blueberry, and coffee. The first seasonal ice cream stand was opened in Skowhegan, followed by another in Farmington. Eventually, Randall and Audrey sold the milk portion of the dairy business to Oakhurst Dairy. Their sons Roger and John took over the ice cream portion of the business and transformed the milk plant into a world-class ice cream factory.
It quickly became clear that Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream was something truly special. Made with fresh milk and cream from local dairy farms, it had that old-fashioned, rich flavor that won the hearts of children and families alike. At the time, the business was making 10,000 gallons annually with a core of six determined employees. Eventually Roger and John started to introduce the ice cream to a broader audience. In 1987, they carried their product across state lines and, over time, added three more ice cream stands in Bangor, Waterville and Auburn.
Today, Gifford’s sells 1.7 million gallons of ice cream each year and serves more than one million cones each summer from five family-owned and operated stands. The company offers 100 unique ice cream flavors, frozen yogurts, sherbets, and sorbets. The ice cream can be found in grocery stores, independent ice cream shops, colleges, universities and restaurants all the way from Maine to the Mid Atlantic, to the Mid-West and as far West as Nevada.
When you have five generations of ice cream making history behind every flavor, it’s no wonder that Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream has received its share of national and international awards. But perhaps most importantly, Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream brings you back to those carefree days when your only worry was how many more days until summer. It’s why we like to say our ice cream is a vacation from the every day.