MOO-ville wins best ice cream at national competition

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NASHVILLE, MI — For the second straight year, MOO-ville Creamery has been recognized for having the best ice cream in America.

Last year, it was chocolate. This time, vanilla.

Related: MOO-ville scoops top honors at national ice cream competition

The creamery, out of Nashville, Michigan, was recognized by The North American Ice Cream Association for the second time in as many years at the association’s annual convention. This year, the convention was from Nov. 7-9, in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We were not as surprised as we were last year, but with a whole new university and whole new panel judging you never really know what to expect,” said Troy Westendorp, of MOO-ville Creamery. “We were excited and kind of humbled at the same time. It’s just exciting.”

One of five blue ribbon winners in the vanilla category, like last year with chocolate, MOO-ville’s vanilla was the highest rated ice cream in the category.

There are often a different number of blue, red and white ribbons handed out in each category as each ice cream is judged against what the national standards of the flavor should be, according to the 89-year-old ice cream association.

Each sample is judged in eight different categories — structure and sensory experiences, as well as flavor, texture and color, among other categories. It also endures melt and bacterial tests.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it and something they take pretty seriously, in judging,” Westendorp said.

He suspects the natural way MOO-ville creates its ice cream may give it an advantage.

“For us, having our own dairy farm, we actually plant the crops that we raise our feed for, that we feed our cows, that makes the milk, that we turn into ice cream, so we control every single step from start to finish,” he said.

The dairy farm, founded by Westendorp’s parents Doug and Louisa Westendorp in 2005, also uses granulated sugar instead of corn syrup in its ice cream production and uses about 20-25% more butter fat than the competition.

The recipe makes for a richer flavor, the ice cream maker said.

The chocolate flavor, which includes two different South American chocolates — double dark and maroma terracotta — did not repeat with a top rating this year, but the flavor did earn a blue ribbon again.

Westendorp, who missed the convention and competition last year as his wife was giving birth to the couple’s second daughter, was able to make the trip this year.

If MOO-ville wins another blue ribbon in 2023 in Las Vegas, they will bring home the Grandmaster Ice Cream Award. The award is issued to any creamery or dairy farm that wins a blue ribbon in three out of four years.

While they have just entered the traditional chocolate, vanilla and strawberry into the association’s clinical competitions, they have a total of 60 flavors to choose from that they could enter into other categories.

Last year’s success generated quite a bit of new business, Westendorp said, which led to the creamery installing a new production line in the spring.

The farm now employs 25 year-round, full-time employees and another 40 additional seasonal employees in the spring and summer. With more success, it may need some more help.

“We definitely saw a pretty big increase in our wholesale accounts last year, places that were looking for ice cream and seeking us out,” Westendorp said. “We always love to chat with anybody that wants to start carrying our ice cream.”

MOO-ville ice cream is served seasonally in shops around Battle Creek, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and at MOO-ville’s four stores.

It can be found year-round at Schultz’s Treat Street in Kalamazoo.

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