Ice Cream Retailer Hot Over 'Homemade' Label

Two ice cream shops in the Square which advertise "homemade" ice cream have sparked some controversy with another ice cream dealer in the Square who says their advertising is misleading and possibly a violation of Massachusetts truth-in-advertising regulations.

Elsie's and Belgian Fudge both advertise "homemade" ice cream, but Sam Citron, manager of Baskin-Robbins, charges that these establishments are not complying with regulations handed down by Massachusetts Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti that define "homemade" as "made of natural ingredients and made in the retail outlet in which it is sold."

Belgian Fudge ice cream is made from a commercial base mix that is combined with their own ingredients and fruits, Joy Pomeroy, manager of the Belgian Fudge outlet on Mass Ave in the Square, said last week.

The ice cream, however, is made in a central plant in Allston and sent to the individual outlets, she added.

"The reason we call it 'homemade' is because we put in our own stuff. Every time the ice cream is a little different. It's not pat," she said.


When told of the specific legal definition of "homemade." Pomeroy said. "I haven't talked with my supervisor much--I haven't asked the question, is this "homemade?" But our company is on a small scale.

All the smaller ice cream stores in the Square use a commercial mix base for their ice cream because the equipment needed to make ice cream from scratch costs half a million dollars, Citron said. The mix is supplied by large commercial concerns such as H.P. Hood.

"The mix is the only way you can make "homemade" ice cream in Massachusetts--otherwise you need a homogenizing plant." Al McCallum, assistant proprietor of the "homemade" ice cream concession at Elsie's, said yesterday.

McCallum added that his ice cream is "homemade" using "no artificial flavorings whatsoever." The ice cream is now made at "Sheila's," an establishment owned by Sheila Ferrick, McCallum's fiancee, but will soon be made downstairs in the Elsie's building, McCallum said.

"We have to pull out the stairs in order to get the equipment in," McCallum said, "that's why we've been waiting."

The disagreement over how to interpret the regulation concerning "homemade" centers particularly on the question of where the ice cream is actually produced.

"The 'homemade' definition is a fine point," McCallum said. "I'm not sure about the meaning of 'on the premises.' The Attorney General's thought doesn't mean that much; "homemade" is how much you make. It means not being a commercial operator throwing out 500 gallon vats," he said.