By: Lauren Garabedian
As you walk into the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons at Niagara University, the cool air is immediately noticed. You walk over to the area of your desire, and there sits several flavors of rich and smooth frozen desserts. They don’t compare to any brand you’ve ever had before, yet you struggle to decide between Cookie Dough, Birthday Bash, Piece of Cake, and several more delicious flavors. Your mouth waters just admiring all of it. You think to yourself, how can someone come up with all of these? Well, Perry’s Ice Cream has been doing it for over a century now. With 500 flavors to select from, the company has been open for over 100 years.
Paige Denning, is a senior marketing major at Niagara University with a go-getter attitude. Not many of her fellow classmates know this about her, but her family owns Perry’s Ice Cream. The company originated in Akron, New York and started out in 1918.
According to the Perry’s website, Denning’s Great-Great-Grandfather H. Morton Perry was just a broom maker when he decided to start a company based off of a family recipe for ice cream. With his skill and passion, he created Perry’s Ice Cream and in those days, it could be delivered right to your doorstep via horse and wagon. With high demands for his creation of savory flavors, the business grew and has been passed down for four generations of Perry’s now. The statistics on their website revealed that the business sells over 12 million gallons of ice cream a year, and are one of the largest ice cream producers in New York State.
“Anyone can purchase it at local grocery stores, gas stations, scoop shops and even Amazon!” Denning exclaimed.
As of today the business is run by Paige’s parents, Bob and Gayle Denning, whose maiden name is Perry, as well as her Uncle, Brian Perry. Paige has two sisters and one brother, but none of the Denning children are taking over the business anytime soon. Her and her siblings are all proud of their family’s business and the tradition it has built in the community throughout decades. The business has evolved over the years, even creating an unimaginable dairy-free ice cream. The secret ingredient is air, without it the ice cream will be hard as a rock.
“My favorite thing is always having ice cream in the freezer,” Denning said. “I think our ice cream is so special because it’s so creamy and it’s slowly cooked one batch at a time.”
Perry’s Ice Cream makes sure that they support and cherish Western New York, a community that has supported and bonded over their savory sweets. If you visit their website, you can see they support local charities such as Camp Good Days, United Way, Food Bank of WNY, Junior Achievement of WNY, Akron Community Lions Club and Akron Business Council. Perry’s also supports local farms by making sure 98 percent of the milk they use in their ice cream comes from farms within 50 miles of the business. The most important thing to Perry’s Ice Cream is the family-oriented tradition it has built over decades. Whether it’s fourth of July and you bring it to your family party, a humid hot summer day where the sun is beaming and you and your friends make sure to visit your local ice cream scoop shop or you run to your local grocery store and buy a gallon to bring to comfort your best friend who’s getting over a breakup. Perry’s Ice Cream is always there for every occasion.
“Growing up we used to always have ice cream socials with my extended family,” Denning recalled. “It was a lot of fun to be able to see people I didn’t always get the chance to see, come together over ice cream.”
Photo courtesy of Paige Denning
The Denning family celebrating 100 years of Perry’s Ice Cream in November 2018. From Left to right: Noah Denning, Bob Denning, Paige Denning, Lindsay Denning, Leah Denning and Gayle Denning.