On Sunday I had the honor to be part of the judges panel for a Purity Ice Cream contest, a dairy based right here in Nashville. The official event was called Martha’s Crankin Ice Cream Social a fund raiser for Martha O’Bryan Center which I wrote about last week.
Purity Dairy’s roots go back to 1925, with a private diary farm started by the Ezell family. Through the years after several relocations and a merger, Purity Dairy took foot in 1945.
Purity Dairies changed the milk business with many innovations, including being the first to have refrigerated trucks in 1956. They started producing ice cream in 1986. For several years Purity has teamed up with the Martha O’Bryan Center to run an ice cream contest. People enter with their homemade ice cream hoping that they have developed the award winning recipe which will be manufactured by Purity and sold in stores.
Imagine going into a store and seeing your special flavor on a Purity carton and your blue ribbon on the carton.
The judging is a fun, yet serious event because Purity is going to make a commitment to produce the winning flavor. We were told that the only way Purity wouldn’t take the winning ice cream to market is if the flavors and ingredients prohibited mass production and that has only happened on rare occasion.
We sat at one of three tables, a vanilla base, a chocolate base and one called other. We tasted, voted, laughed, mingled and had quite a good time. There were two other food bloggers, city council members, and a few restaurant chefs including Roderick Bailey from my favorite, the Silly Goose. As we scored the ice creams, it seemed that there much consensus amongst the judges, so I think the winners won fair and square.
After judging we were free to roam the sprawling grounds, and sample as much ice cream as our hearts desired.
The event is held on the lawn at the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville. In addition to ice cream, there was great music, face painting and a magician for the kids. The interesting thing I found out is that some of the same families enter the contest year after year. Some people bring their ice cream as part of the tastings, but never enter the contest.
Daphne Walker has been bringing her Wildflower Honey Ice Cream to this event for at least 10 years and has yet to enter. I think she should.
My husband loved the heath bar, but my favorite of the day was the maple bacon. I didn’t get to test every entry so I”m not sure if this was entered, but it’s a winner in my book, although it probably has a select consumer.
Three winners were announced from each category, by Mark Ezell, President of Purity.
The First place winners included: Mary Allen for Graham Ole Opry, Mayme Lee Lawrence for Spicy Almond Chocolate flake (chocolate base) and Lisa Witten for Cherry Limeade.
The Second place winners included: Mary Wilson for Peachy Pecan, Samantha Williams for Orange You Glad It’s Chocolate, and SucyBennett for BananaRama.
The Third Place winners included: John Maguirk for Alton Brown’s Banana Pudding, Connie Hukowicz for Momma’s Chocolate Pie, and Darcy Cross for Ritzy Pepper.
Best of Show
Mr. ST was out sampling while I was judging and came back to give me his best of show. He has an amazing gift for taste and bingo, he picked the winner!
The “Graham Ole Opry” ice cream flavor, created by Mary Allen, took first place in vanilla base and best of show. This is the second win in a row for Mary Allen and she can expect to see another one of her flavors in the stores by next summer, and she’s only 22. She comes from a family of winners as her mother and sister have had flavor wins in former years also. Mary Allen combined two classics from Nashville, the Grand Old Opry and the ingredients found in our very own Goo Good Cluster Candy bar.
Her ice cream ingredients were chopped peanuts, caramel swirls and chocolate covered graham chunks, and to prove how delicious it was, my husband who wasn’t a judge sampled all the flavors and picked the winner before it was announced.
These are some of the winners of past years that have been so successful, they can still be purchased today. I tried all the past winners and my favorites were nutty relations and heavenly Hawaiian. The last 3 out of five winners that are still in the stores are from the same family!
If you want to taste an ice cream from this year’s winner, Mary Allen’s Nutty Relations is in stores right now. It’s a combination of peanut butter and hazelnut chocolate (nutella flavor). Yum.
As part of the judge’s package, we each received a running shirt and a race entry for our families for next year’s Purity Dairy Dash. I think after all that ice cream tasting, I better get out and start running.