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Making ice cream has been anything but plain vanilla for Keith and Bev Schloneger of Mt. Eaton, Ohio.
Keith Schloneger worked as a logger in Wisconsin and a farmer there and in Ohio for a short while. Once he and Bev moved to Ohio, they wanted to try something different. In 1997, Keith and Bev purchased the ice cream business from Til and Loren Neuenschwander, who had been making ice cream and developing a route since the late 1960s.
Keith said he's had to buy milk from Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. a couple times on he and Bev's busiest days of the year.
"It consumes us in the summer," Keith said.
During busy streaks, the work could total up to 80 hours a week. Schloneger's Homemade Ice Cream can be found in Kidron from March to late November and also at various local festivals and seasonal events that are posted on their web site.
They say it's homemade old fashioned ice cream "the way you remember it," but for those who haven't ever had good homemade ice cream, it's worth following the truck's schedule to find out.
It's a mystery how the ice cream stays so cold or the flavor so sharp, but Bev, who makes the mixes from scratch, said that might be a clue.
Flavors started with chocolate and vanilla and their repertoire has grown to include butter pecan and coconut cream, butter cup, maple nut, black cherry, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, Mt. Dew sherbet, orange sherbet, lemon, licorice, strawberry cheesecake, Oreo bash, spotted cow, coconut almond chocolate chip, banana, peanut butter and agave vanilla for diabetic ice cream eaters. They also offer seasonal flavors like blackberry, pumpkin pecan and black walnut.
Schloneger's has made its way to the Christian music ALIVE festival in Canal Fulton for at least 10 years and has also been a part of the Dandelion festival at Breitenbach Wine Cellars and the Beet Festival in Kidron.
For special occasions, the Schloneger's aren't afraid to experiment and venture away from their classics. In fact, making unique flavors in honor of their host events has produced beet, dandelion and pistachio nasturtium. The pistachio nasturtium ice cream came about when their host dumped a bunch of flowers and pistachios in the mix and afterward the Schlonegers asked to keep using
"It's not the most popular, but it's unusual," Keith said.
He and Bev use only the flower part of the dandelion to make the ice cream, which they say has a mild and sweet flavor.
Ice cream isn't the only thing that sets Schloneger's Homemade Ice Cream apart, either. The couple makes homemade ice cream on a stationary hit-and-miss John
Deere engine from 1927 to power the mixer. Keith Schloneger said the engine was probably used to pump water from wells. Using the motor adds a nuance to their production, drawing mechanics and John Deere fanatics alike, questioning how the machine works.
Keith Schloneger can fix the engine if he needs to and he remembers having to repair it in a jam at one of their busiest stops of the year.
"People were cheering when we were able to start again," he said.
Customers who want to take the taste home with them can order any one of the flavors by the quart (buy three quarts and get one free) or by the freezer, which is about four and a half gallons.
For more information about Schloneger's, see page 32.