From an ice cream freezer to network: 'They just call me the dean of cream'


OMAHA -- Claude Reed was a strapping lad of 18 when he ventured to Omaha from Des Moines, Iowa, to expand the family's dairy business. More than 50 years later he holds the patents on a unique ice cream system that is going national.

He began the process by the time he was in his mid 20s after searching for a way to serve soft ice cream so he could mix any flavor the customer wanted.


With most soft ice cream, the flavoring is blended when the ice cream still is soft, and that limits the number of flavors that can be served, Reed said.

His process, called Whirla Whip, started with a machine that used hard ice cream and softened it as flavoring was added. That feature, plus the 150 pounds of pressure under which the concoction is whipped, allows each serving to be made individually with whatever flavor the customer wants.


But Reed, 73, said shortly after he began marketing the process in the 1930s, he found those who had the machines installed in their drug or candy stores were losing money because they did not know how much ice cream to put in each serving.

So he went back to the drawing board and came up with a system using pre-rolled ice cream.

The machinery slices the roll into individual servings, then mixes it with nearly any flavoring, including fresh fruit and various candies.

It is estimated more than 13 trillion flavor combinations could be produced, Reed said.

Using pressure makes the cups used to mix the servings self-cleaning and adds a richer flavor than the 4 percent butterfat ice cream used.

Now a company has been formed to market Reed's process nationwide.

About 20 market areas have been opened for the Whirla Whip system, Reed said. Each is to begin with a production center that will produce the rolled ice cream and provide machines to dealers.

He said there currently are about 75 Whirla Whip public outlets nationally, but each marketing area is designed to establish about 1,200 outlets in the next five years.

And his position with the company?


'They just call me the Dean of Cream,' Reed said.

That's a title he's worked hard for, opening 63 Reed Dairy stores in Omaha in his first 10 years. And he put the first generation of Whirla Whip machines in all of them, as well as the family's 43 stores in Des Moines and a few more in St. Louis.

That was in the days when packaged ice cream was a novelty, and people carried the treat home to the family after it had been hand-scooped into paper cartons.

'When I was 18 dad said to me, 'Claude, how would you like to go to Omaha and popularize packaged ice cream?'' I was a business-minded kid,' he said.

Reed had his own ice cream freezer when he started -- a factor that gave him all the wholesale and retail profits of his business.

And he has carried that over to his ideas about the Whirla Whip business.

'I don't know of any other franchise in the country where the guy can start small and expand from the profits,' he said.

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