I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! That could be the theme song for a popular Whitley ice cream parlour.
When haulage firm boss Geoff Wraithmell and wife Audrey started making ice cream 20 years ago they couldn’t have dreamed of the adventure they were about to embark on.
The couple’s haulage business suffered a devastating blow when a customer went bust owing them £72,000.
A holiday in Jersey saw Geoff hit on the idea for making Jersey ice cream. On a whim he bought 10 Jersey calves bringing them back from the Channel Islands in a trailer.
The couple snapped up a milking machine for £1, invested £7,000 in ice-cream making equipment and began selling from the farm gate.
Two years later their artisan ice cream had become so popular they launched their own ice cream parlour naming it Charlotte’s Jersey Ice Cream after their daughter. It opened on Charlotte’s 10th birthday.
Charlotte will be 29 in May and the parlour which bears her name is a big success. Audrey and her staff made a whopping 32,000 litres of ice cream last year, which is sold around Yorkshire and beyond.
Geoff, 68, can’t believe how the business has taken off and said: “We could never have dreamed it would turn out like this.
“It’s just got bigger and bigger every year and I wish I had started it 40 years ago. I am always hungry for work and can never turn anything down.
“I still work seven days a week but take it a bit easier these days. I’ll never retire though.”
Audrey, 67, is in charge of ice cream making and Charlotte, now married with two young daughters Alexis, two, and three-month-old Ophelia, is also involved in the business. Proud grandad Geoff is already looking at when the third generation takes over.
Audrey, meanwhile, is very much hands-on in the present producing no fewer than 36 flavours of their award-winning ice cream.
Despite some exotic flavours – blueberry ripple, banana and ginger, apple and cinnamon, mango, coconut and rhubarb – the best seller remains plain old vanilla.
The Jersey cows have now gone – along with the mucking out – and the milk is bought in.
But that secret ingredient – referred to as ‘magic dust’ – is what gives Charlotte’s ice cream its distinctive creamy taste.
“We have our recipe and we keep refining it,” said Audrey. “All ice cream is different and every maker has something they do that they won’t ever tell anybody else.
“Our secret is the magic dust.”
Charlotte’s ice cream is made with milk, double cream, buttermilk powder, granulated sugar and dextrose, an emulsifier and stabiliser, magic dust and, of course, the flavouring.
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The mixture is pasteurised – or boiled – and then cooled to -20C and each batch of ice cream takes six-and-a-half hours to make.
Faced with a bewildering choice of flavours it can take time for customers to choose but the outcome is often surprising.
“If people come to the counter and stand there thinking what to have you can guarantee they will eventually go for vanilla,” said Audrey. “That’s by far our most popular flavour.”
The most messy ice cream – and children’s favourite – is chocolate.
Audrey said: “Parents come in and ask little George what he wants. George says: ‘Chocolate please’ but mum says: ‘You’re not having that because you’ll make a mess. You can have strawberry instead.’
“Little George has strawberry but causes such a fuss that mum comes back to buy chocolate. He gets what he wanted after all and we sell twice as much ice cream!”
The parlour also serves sorbets and sundaes and its Ice Cream Mountain – with 10 scoops – is a sweet-toothed challenge. It’s not quite Man v Food and at £12 it comes with up to four spoons for sharing!
Charlotte’s has become an attraction for more than just the ice cream. It has a miniature railway, crazy golf, a 40ft inflatable slide and a children’s playground.
There is also an animal petting area with alpacas, pigs, rabbits and chickens. Geoff recently bought two as yet unnamed wallabies – who he managed to ‘lose’ for 24 hours after they first arrived – and he’s built a pond for the new season with ornamental ducks and black swans.
Geoff’s brain works overtime and his next venture is glamping pods – upmarket camping – which he hopes will be approved by planners shortly.
“We’ve always got something going on,” he added.