Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream Company
Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream Company has been churning out gallons and half gallons of popular premium ice cream flavors for nearly 90 years. Based in Holland, Michigan, the creamery is putting a twist on time-tested recipes and adding new all-natural products, as well as rolling out limited-edition flavors, highlighting the best ingredients its home state and the Great Lakes region has to offer.
Hudsonville’s Michigan-born roots trace back to the turn of the century when the company started out as a local farmers’ cooperative. In 1895, Michigan farmers joined forces to find a better way to sell dairy products and distribute milk.
After selecting a location on Chicago Drive in Hudsonville, Michigan, the creamery was born, but it wasn’t until 1926 that Hudsonville started producing ice cream. With the invention of the continuous process freezer, Hudsonville was able to produce ice cream year-round, turning out gallons of the original six flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan, orange pineapple and tutti frutti.
Establishing a Michigan tradition
In 1930 Dick Hoezee, one of the original cooperative members, began working at the creamery. In 1946, he purchased the company, acquiring the rights and recipes to Hudsonville’s ice cream and Hoezee was joined by his four sons.
Over the next 26 years, Hoezee streamlined the churning process and updated the plant with the latest manufacturing innovations, including automated filling machines. In 1972, Hoezee sold the business to his four sons, Dell, Jack, Rich and Phil.
The sons continued the family tradition, adding 50 more flavors to the Hudsonville line up until 2003, when the company was sold to another west Michigan family. “The company has changed hands over the years, from one family to another, which preserved consistency and continuity,” tells Ray Sierengowski, director of product development for Hudsonville. “Nonetheless, we’re still a family business. In fact, one of the members of the company’s original family still consults with the current owners.”
The same premium recipe for 90 years
Family ownership is one aspect that remains after nearly a century in business, along with a time-tested recipe says Sierengowski. “The mix we use hasn’t changed; we’re still one of the few premium ice cream makers,” he measures. “Being on the premium end, our product has slightly higher butterfat content. Even with the increase in the price of cream, we still try to stay true to our formulations, holding strong on keeping the recipe the same, but trying to add a twist to make things relevant for new demographics.”
From the first six flavors to nearly 40 and even more on a rotational, seasonal basis, Hudsonville has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, the Hudsonville label is found in grocery stores in Michigan and three neighboring states. And the company is doing all it can to promote products in its home state, as well as the Midwest region.
Hudsonville has partnered with the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, furthering the company’s influence throughout the state. The creamery crafted a feature flavor for the campaign – Pure Michigan Caramel Apple, using apples sourced from within the state and is rolling out a new line of True Michigan flavors.
Sierengowski, who’s a product development veteran of 20 years, says he’s seen a major shift in consumer choices, even in the freezer aisle. “The locavore consumer is becoming more prevalent,” he explains. “It’s not just about the ingredients, but also where they’re sourced that’s now important.”
“We’re getting milk and cream farm fresh daily; from 40 to 50 miles of our facility in Holland,” adds Sierengowski. “It’s something our customers can feel good about when they purchase Hudsonville ice cream and we can feel good about our environmental footprint.”
Have your ice cream and eat it, too
Sierengowski says the creamery is also making a push into the all-natural market, backed by an abundance of strong agriculture producers in Michigan. “The lack of government regulations in what makes something all-natural is an issue,” he says. “There’s a vague description of what that criteria exactly is, so in crafting our all-natural’s line, it was very important to offer our customers a clear, concise description of what they will and what they won’t find in the product.”
That means ice cream free of: corn syrup, artificial colors and dyes, RBST artificial growth hormones and preservatives. “We wanted to create something that’s indulgent and delicious, but something that’s a little better for you,” measures Sierengowski. “For example, the only pink color in our all-natural strawberry flavor comes from crushed up berries; the vanilla bean has real flecks of vanilla and the chocolate is made with non-alkalized, unprocessed cocoa.”
Close to home
Even with an influx of new products, Sierengowski notes Hudsonville has seen the demand for classic flavors pick up. “We’re reintroducing our French Silk flavor,” he adds. “People all over social media have been asking for this longtime favorite to return.”
“For us, it’s about a continuation of old and new and limited edition flavors that tie in with the Pure Michigan campaign,” tells Sierengowski. “As we expand with Pure Michigan, we’re focusing on the best and greatest from our state – whether its pumpkins or apples, milk or cream- there’s an abundance of agriculture here and it’s something we’re passionate about.” Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream Company will continue serving it up one sweet scoop at a time.