Folks unknowingly enjoy National Ice Cream Day

MILFORD – “It knows its way to a lot of ice cream shops,” said Rich Perkins as he ate a chocolate chip cone.

Perkins was referring to his beautifully maintained 1957 Ford Fairlane parked in front of Hayward’s Ice Cream Sunday afternoon.

He and John Albert, who was eating a cup of Fluffernutter ice cream, said they had just finished working on a diesel engine and were enjoying their sweet rewards.

Sunday was National Ice Cream Day, and the two men didn’t know that and didn’t care.

Neither did George Bower (mocha chocolate chip and chocolate tsunami), his wife Jackie (cherry vanilla and coconut almond) and their daughter, Ali (cookie dough brownie), who were sitting at a nearby picnic table.

The Bowers, who live in Amherst, had just spent a couple hours picking blueberries in Wilton, and as they drove down Elm Street through Milford.

“I said, ‘George, are you thinking what I’m thinking?’” Jackie said. So they made the left turn into Hayward’s.

The ice cream stand has made its way into Bower family lore.

Jackie remembered that it was a hot day in July, 29 years ago, when they were bringing their newborn son, Andrew, home from the hospital and stopped into Hayward’s, and the “ice cream was running down our hands.”

They also talked about the time they rode here on bicycles from their Amherst house, going the roundabout way on North River Road to get there and then taking the shorter way home because a lightening storm was close by.

According to Wikipedia, the Persians made some of the first ice cream by pouring grape juice concentrate on ice.

Another origin story has Roman Emporer Nero bringing snow from the mountains and mixing it with fruit.

But it’s hard to imagine that those concoctions would inspire the died-and-gone-to-heaven feeling that causes Americans to consume around 13 quarts a year, on average.

The online encyclopedia also says vanilla and chocolate are the favorite flavors, but not at Hayward’s.

Stephanie Palladino, who is working her fourth season at the Milford ice cream stand, said specialty flavors like coffee cake, peanut butter Oreo and purple panther yogurt are selling very well.

The Haywards have been selling ice cream on Elm Street since the middle of the 20th century, except for one long interruption and reopened with a new stand in 2001.

According to the town history, the first recorded sale of ice cream in Milford was in 1876 at George Melendy’s store on Union Square, where candy, ice cream and hardware were sold.

Started by Reagan

National Ice Cream Month (July) and National Ice Cream Day (the third Sunday in July) were started in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan to promote the dairy and ice cream industries, but in Milford, at least at Hayward’s, it’s hard to see why ice cream needs any promotion.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@