William Dreyer opened his
own ice creamery in Visalia, Calif., and won first prize at the 1921
Pacific Slope Dairy Show. Over the next two decades, he taught ice cream
courses at the University of California and served as an officer in the
California Dairy Industries Association.
Dreyer found a business partner and kindred spirit in
renowned candy maker Joseph Edy after moving to Oakland, Calif.
Dreyer’s ice cream expertise and Edy’s candy-making acumen
created a winning combination. Their small ice cream factory on Grand
Avenue quickly became a gathering place. “Grand” has been part
of the company name ever since — both as a reminder of the
company’s birthplace on Grand Avenue and a declaration of the
outstanding quality of their ice cream.
In 1929, almost all ice cream was made in three
flavors — vanilla, chocolate and strawberry — and was always
served as sundaes. Dreyer added walnuts (later replaced with almonds) to
his chocolate ice cream and, using his wife’s sewing shears, cut
marshmallows into bite-sized pieces to make the first-ever batch of Rocky
Road. Dreyer and Edy picked a flavor name to give folks something to smile
about in the face of the Great Depression. Rocky Road became
America’s first blockbuster flavor and remains one of the
best-selling flavors of all time. Dreyer invented a number of other flavors
that are still made today, including Toasted Almond and Peppermint Stick.
In 1946, William Dreyer’s only son joined the
ice cream business and Joe Edy focused on his candy business. In July 1947,
Edy and Dreyer dissolved their partnership.
In 1963, Dreyer’s son sold the company to his
key officers — Al Wolff, Bob Boone and Ken Cook. Dreyer remained
active in the company until his death in 1975.
The company was purchased in 1977 by T. Gary Rogers
and W.F. (Rick) Cronk. Under Rogers’ and Cronk’s direction,
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream expanded its distribution to become the
leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of packaged ice cream in the
In 2003, the company merged with Nestlé Ice
Cream Co. LLC to form Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings Inc. That
same year, after 26 years in the ice cream business, Dreyer’s
President W.F. (Rick) Cronk retired.
A year later, Dreyer’s introduced its
resoundingly successful Slow Churned® Ice Cream with half the fat and
one-third fewer calories than full-fat premium ice cream. A few months
later, Dreyer’s acquired Silhouette Brands, producers of low-fat and
low-carb snacks marketed under The Skinny Cow® and Skinny Carb®
In 2005, Dreyer’s launched two revolutionary new
products: Häagen-Dazs® Extra Rich Light, with half the fat as the
original; and Dibs® bite-sized ice cream snacks, recognized as the best
new product of the year by four industry publications.
In 2006, Dreyer’s became a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Nestlé. Today, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream is a $2
billion company. Dreyer’s and its subsidiaries manufacture and
distribute a full spectrum of ice cream and frozen dessert products.
Brands of frozen dessert products currently
manufactured or distributed by Dreyer’s in the United States include
Grand, Slow Churned, Dibs, Häagen-Dazs, Nestlé Drumstick®,
Nestlé Crunch, Eskimo Pie® and Starbucks.
The company’s premium products are marketed
under the Dreyer’s brand name throughout the Western states and
Texas, and under the Edy’s® brand name throughout the remainder
of the United States. Internationally, the Dreyer’s brand extends to
select markets in the Far East and the Edy’s brand extends to the
Caribbean and South America.