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Graeter's is a regional chain of shops offering ice cream, baked goods, and candy which originated in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1870. Their premium, thick ice cream has been featured on Food Network, and has earned them many dedicated fans including Oprah Winfrey.

"French pot" process

Graeter's ice cream is made in a French pot process. The ice cream mix is placed into a chilled, spinning French pot. As the liquid freezes, a worker scrapes down the sides of the pot with a blade. For flavors that include chocolate chips, liquid chocolate is poured into the pot, and freezes into a thin shell on top of the ice cream. A worker uses a blade to break up this shell and mix it into the ice cream, resulting in Graeter's' famous huge dark chocolate chips.

Recently Graeter's has begun replacing and upgrading their ice cream manufacturing equipment with a more automated process. Their new machines remove the ice cream from the sides of the pot automatically, but due to the fact the the ice cream still comes out of the pot frozen the pints will remain hand-packed for the foreseeable future.

Each batch of ice cream is only about two gallons (7.6 L) and is thus very labor intensive. The resulting ice cream is so thick that it must be hand-packed into pints (473 mL). The ice cream is sold in pint containers at Graeter's stores, and at food markets, including Giant Eagle grocery; Kroger, also a Cincinnati-based company, in the vicinity of Graeter's stores as well as in the Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston areas; King Soopers stores (a division of Kroger) in Denver, Colorado; and at Heinen's Markets in Cleveland. Because of the small batches and high amount of labor involved, Graeter's pints are more expensive than other brands of premium ice cream, such as Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs.

In an article on the ice cream industry, The New York Times pointed out that for reasons of chemistry not yet understood, ice cream made in small batches is far superior in taste to factory-made premium brands like Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry's. This article went on to say that “...the ice cream most connoisseurs feel to be the best in the world, Graeter’s of Cincinnati, is made in two gallon batches."[1] Like most super-premium ice creams, Graeter’s has a high butter fat content, between 16 and 18%. On her show in July, 2002, Oprah Winfrey said: "You haven't had ice cream till you've had Graeter's. The butter pecan is Stedman's favorite, and mine, too." The company was then overwhelmed with phone and Internet orders.

Graeter's stores also receive ice cream in two-gallon tubs, which they scoop to make ice cream cones, ice cream sodas, and milkshakes. Graeter's also sells its ice cream online [2], and offers fresh baked-goods and hand-dipped chocolate.

[edit] Graeter's locations

Graeter's has stores located around Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton in Ohio, and around Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky. A shop opened in the Kings Island amusement park in 2005. A shop is opening in the fall of 2009 in Harrah's Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino; it will be the second store in Indiana, after one in New Albany. There are three franchisees, each of which makes the ice cream in local plants. These serve the stores in Columbus/Dayton, Louisville, and Lexington/Northern Kentucky, respectively.

In 2004 Graeter's began selling its ice cream at LaRosa's, a local pizzeria, in a small personal size. Three flavors are available in the dining room, for pickup, or for delivery.

Graeter's opened its second Newport, Kentucky retail outlet on August 3, 2007. The 1,800-square-foot (170 m2) location at 342 Monmouth St., at the corner of Fourth and Monmouth in the Historic James Taylor Jr. Bank Building, is one block from Newport on the Levee. This is Graeter's second retail outlet in Newport.[1].

On October 15, 2007, Graeter's returned to its historic roots in Downtown Cincinnati when it opened a new store on Fountain Square in the heart of the city.