In the 1920s, electric refrigeration was a recent development, and the people of White Bear were embracing the new amenity. For homes, this meant the end of reliance upon the daily visits from the iceman, who delivered the five- to 25-pound blocks of ice needed to cool their perishables.
Brothers Aloys and Henry Kohler purchased the Schnorr Dairy in White Bear in 1924, which contained a creamery and a retail area. The new technology provided the Kohlers the opportunity to enhance their business and, before the end of the decade, they began manufacturing an ice cream mix and installed the first counter freezer in Minnesota. Their site, on the east side of Washington Avenue, almost immediately needed to be enlarged, and the business continued to grow rapidly through the 1930s.
A soda fountain was added, and the space quickly became known as Kohler’s Romance Ice Cream Parlor. With more than 30 flavors of ice cream made fresh each day, business was brisk. During high school football season each fall, it was common to see crowds of spectators who made their way from the games to celebrate the win or drown the loss in a Fudgy Wudgy, a special treat that cost a whopping 13 cents (or a double for 23) and topped with whipped cream for an additional two pennies.
Another decade of growth and the manufacturing component of the business had outgrown the original site. The company was divided between the two brothers: Aloys handled the parlor business and Henry moved to Banning Avenue with the manufacturing operation. The parlor thrived until the mid-1950s. Generations of White Bear families fondly remember the scenes hand-painted by Al Kohler and Ross Moore that lined the walls of the parlor. For more than three decades, Kohler’s was the place to treat your children, for high school students to gather and for romances to bloom.
Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. She will be sharing history thoughts monthly on this back page.
For more information on Kohler’s Ice Cream Parlor, visit the website here, or call 651.407.5327.