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 United States.
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® brands.
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.