I fondly remember the custard stand located near where I grew up. It was located on Hwy 50 and Annandale Road, in Falls Church, VA. A visit there required a 20 minute ride and often standing in line for more than 15 minutes. But aahhhhh was it worth it. With only two flavor choices, chocolate or vanilla, it was heaven.
To this day, I do not know of another true custard stand in the State of Virginia although Carl's in Fredericksburg (where I lived for over 10 years) was known as "Carl's Custard" but their frozen dairy treat was really ice cream as it did not have the required amount of eggs in the ingredients to be legally called "custard" in Virginia. Which I think begs the question, what in the heck do they know about dairy products??? But I digress.
The difference between ice cream and custard is the eggs, egg yolks to be more precise. Also, custard is typically served as it is made and not packaged and frozen like you would ice cream. Because custard has less air in it, it is very dense, and therefore its flavor is richer than ice cream. At least in theory, that is the case. I've had some pretty pitiful custard that has little to excite my taste buds.
Here in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin (which by the way *IS* the dairy state!), you can find custard stands in every community, small and large. There are chains such as Culver's (http://www.culvers.com/) which are not only state-wide but may be found throughout the Midwest and a few southern states . . . and single shop operations like the infamous Leon's (http://leonsfrozencustard.us/About.html) of Milwaukee.
Leon's has been around since 1942 and is famous because whenever dignitaries come to our fair city, they make a stop there for a cone of their favorite flavor. Even US Presidents have graced Leon's, including Clinton and Obama. It is reported to be the inspiration behind the teen hang-out Arnold's in the television sitcom from the 1970's . . . Happy Days (which took place in Milwaukee).
There are other nice custard places around Milwaukee and the suburbs, including several with multiple local locations. Oscar's (West Allis and Waukesha) and Kopp's (Greenfield, Brookfield and Glendale) are a couple of our personal faves.
In fact, not to be outdone by Leon's in the national and political media spotlight, Kopps made news when US Vice President Joe Biden made a rude comment to a Kopps' manager, calling him a "smart ass" while the press corps' cameras rolled. (Check out the national news coverage of the incident here: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/06/27/biden-calls-custard-shop-manager-smartass-taxes-comment/ .)
Of course, if there is custard you can make other dairy dessert delights. Sundaes and banana splits are a couple of options. Additionally, while all custard stands offer chocolate and vanilla, some do have a "flavor of the day" which is featured literally for a day, and then something else is offered up the next day. You can pick up a monthly menu with the upcoming line-up. A couple of faves in our household are caramel cashew and mint chip. Some places also offer pints and quarts to go, including day-old flavors that didn't sell out the night before.
It is will known that man (or woman) cannot live on custard alone, so most of these custard stands also serve food; mostly the typical drive-in grill offerings. Burgers, hot dogs, fries and onion rings are standard at most. Many who dine will opt for a thick creamy shake rather than a cone for dessert. Beware however . . . I've been told a typical 16oz. custard shake has nearly 1,000 calories! (Source: Culver's website on nutrition.)
Many of these custard places have walk-up order windows with no inside dining area. There are some, especially the multiple location groups, that do have dining inside and out. For many, there is nothing like driving up and getting a cone or shake and enjoying it out in the car with your family or friends.
Milwaukee custard stands are so well known throughout the United States that one year, I decided to pull a prank at the American Bowling Congress's national championships tournament in Syracuse, NY. Many teams compete in "the ABC's" with the support of a sponsor. The sponsor will help the team with entry fees or perhaps travel expenses. More often than not, however, they buy the team (five "guys") matching shirts with the sponsor's name emblazoned on the back.
Since the team I put together to go to Syracuse did not have a sponsor, we thought we'd sponsor ourselves . . . which was really what was happening since we were paying our own way. With a team member with the last name of Dargiewicz (yes a nice local Wisconsin name), we created "Dargie's Frozen Custard" . . . a completely fictitious establishment!
While competing in the tournament, we must have had 50 people stop by and ask about Dargie's . . . where was it . . . how did they compare to Leon's . . . how long had they been around, etc. It was a hoot.
If you are coming to Wisconsin, and especially to Milwaukee, you must be sure to by-pass the Dairy Queen, A & W Root Beer and BR/31 and have a true Midwest frozen custard cone. Nothing beats it!