Talking Frozen Custard with Jessica McKinley
1. What is frozen custard and how is it different from frozen yogurt, soft serve ice cream, gelato or regular ice cream?
Our frozen custard is different than standard ice cream in a few ways. First we make it fresh every day, whereas ice cream is generally made in a factory and shipped. It could be up to 3 months before the ice cream reaches the actual customer. Custard is blended with far less air than ice cream which creates a full, creamy flavor and texture. Custard is about 20% air and ice cream is 70-80% air. Gelato and Custard are similar, but Custard has pasteurized egg yolk in it and Gelato does not. Frozen custard traditionally has less calories and fat than regular ice cream.
2. Is your frozen custard gluten free?
Our base flavors of chocolate and vanilla are gluten free. Certain toppings may contain gluten, so we just ask our gluten sensitive customers to be cautious of toppings that would normally contain gluten and avoid those.
3. Can you tell us a little about how you make your frozen custard?
We make our frozen custard in the store, fresh every day, in small batches to keep up with the flow of business. We don’t have a soft serve machine. We make our custard in a double barreled machine and scoop the final product out of buckets.
4. Why do you make it daily?
Custard is served at 26 degrees versus ice cream which is 16 degrees. Ice cream will freeze your taste buds as you eat it and you lose overall enjoyment of the dessert. At 26 degrees, you can fully enjoy the flavor of the custard. By making it fresh, we prevent the hard freeze of the product. Quality is very important to us so serving our custard fresh is another way we ensure that we providing our customers with a high quality product.
5. Do you make it from a mix or are you making it from the basic ingredients?
We have a proprietary mix made specifically for Whit's for the base flavors of vanilla and chocolate. The additional flavors are made in the store each day, which are part of our secret recipes.
6. What flavors of frozen custard do you have?
We do three flavors everyday. We always have vanilla and chocolate. The vanilla is similar in taste to French Vanilla. In addition to those, we have a flavor of the week. The flavor starts on Monday and runs through Sunday.
7. Can you tell us about some of the "flavors of the week" you've featured?
The most popular flavor is Buckeye, which is a peanut butter custard made with swirls of peanut butter and Reese’s. Another popular flavor of the week is Sea Salt Caramel. We use a caramel custard and swirl in caramel and a touch of sea salt. Another flavor is Black Raspberry Chip: Black Raspberry custard with chocolate flakes mixed in. We have over 200 flavors that we can make.
8. Is there a standard rotation of weekly flavors or are they always different?
We preset the flavors at the beginning year. We bring back the most popular flavors every quarter whereas other flavors may only be featured once a year. We do make some additional flavors that we don't serve as regularly and add them to our quart freezer for take home.
9. Are there regional (i.e. Southern) flavors?
Not yet, but there are talks of some new flavors. Maybe something with bacon in the works!
10. What's a Whitser?
A Whitser is a combination of your flavor choice of custard and toppings blended together. We have a Specialties menu which features some our most popular topping combinations and we can blend those together to make a Whitser or put the toppings on top and serve as a Sundae. Otherwise, you can create your own Whitser with any of our 34 toppings to choose from.
11. What are the most popular ingredients for a Whitser?
Our most popular Specialty Whitser is the Beach Madness, which is made from custard, Reese’s Cup, chocolate syrup and peanut butter. The second most popular Whitser is the Sea Turtle, made from custard, hot fudge, hot caramel and pecans. The next most popular Whitser is the Hawaiian Lu’au, made from custard, pineapple, coconut, half a banana and macadamia nuts.
12. What's the most popular kid's choice for a Whitser?
The Dirty Worm is very popular. The Dirty Worm is made with custard, Cookies and Crème, and Gummi Worms on top.
13. Can you tell us about your cakes?
The cakes are on hand every day for purchase in our to-go freezer. We make them in-house and can create custom order cakes with 48 hours notice. The cakes are all custard and toppings, no actual cake. They are generally themed after our Specialties, so you can get flavors such as our Beach Madness Custard Cake. Beach Madness is a layer of vanilla custard, a middle layer of peanut butter, Reese's, and chocolate syrup, another layer of vanilla custard, all topped with chocolate, peanut butter, Reese's, and whipped cream.
14. Can you tell us a little about Whit’s?
Whit’s was started by Chuck and Lisa Whitman. Chuck worked in his father's foodservice business, and spent 21 years calling on restaurants, including popular soft-serve businesses throughout the Midwest. During this time, he purchased an endless array of ice cream ingredients, and worked at a dairy manufacturing plant. His knowledge and affinity for the virtues of frozen custard grew over those years and he steadily worked to perfect a frozen custard recipe while sourcing supplies of the finest ingredients. Frozen custard became his passion. His wife, Lisa, also shares this passion. Lisa and her family spent many years operating several ice cream establishments in the Columbus area. "I grew up on soft-serve ice cream, but when I tried frozen custard, that was it. Frozen custard is creamier and full of flavor." Chuck and Lisa Whitman have taken the secrets they have learned over the years and perfected it into one store.
The first Whit’s location opened on March 3, 2003, in Granville, Ohio, at the end of one of the region's coldest and snowiest winters in years. There are now 20 locations in Ohio. We are the first to open outside of the state of Ohio.
15. What attracted you to a Whit's franchise?
My husband's family lives in Granville, OH. We visit them twice a year and Whit's has always been a must-have on the list for us. A few years ago we heard that they were franchising. The Whitmans are family friends and we started talking to them about the opportunity. They were excited about expanding into Florida and we were excited about bringing a really great product to the Beaches. The rest is history!
16. What did you do before Whit’s?
My husband and I both currently hold jobs. I do commercial insurance at Brown & Brown Insurance. My husband is a general manager of a furniture retail store: American Signature Furniture.
17. What attracted you to your location in Atlantic Beach?
We knew we wanted to open a location at the beach. We absolutely love Atlantic Beach because it is such a great community and also because the Beaches Town Center is a wonderful venue with so many pedestrians and beach cruisers.