A frosty taste of the Midwest in Boca Raton

Inside Whit’s, Boca Raton

A go-to treat popular for a century with Midwesterners, frozen custard, now is available in a variety of flavors at Whit’s Frozen Custard on Federal Highway in Boca Raton

Frozen dessert in the middle of winter?  Why not? It’s almost always cold treat weather in Florida.

For most of us, that means ice cream, or gelato. But what about frozen custard, the go-to frozen treat that makes Midwesterners nostalgic?

The popularity of Shake Shack has made frozen custard downright trendy. Shake Shack aside, there’s been nowhere else—at least that I am aware of—to get this cold treat in our region.

That’s changed. There’s now Whit’s Frozen Custard, which can be found in a strip center on North Federal Highway, about a third of a mile south of Spanish River Boulevard in Boca Raton.

Whit’s franchised Boca Raton outpost, which opened in October, isn’t fancy. It’s just a storefront. The interior is brightly illuminated and almost sterile, but for the bright red Whit’s logo on the back wall and the blue patio-like seating to the side of the counter.

No sooner had we entered ln a recent visit and began eyeing the menu boards, than a server greeted us from behind the counter and offered tastes of the daily flavors. The menu posted on the wall lists banana splits and floats, plus a variety of toppings and mix ins from which to choose. You can be quite creative if you wish or opt for plain vanilla or chocolate.  Prices start at $4 for a single scoop in a cup or cake cone. $5 for a double.

On the day of our visit, one of the flavors of the week was Buckeye Madness, which reminded me of a Snicker’s candy bar.  However, it’s made with peanut butter custard with chopped Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut Butter Swirls. The other, Dreamsicle Cookie, recalled the classic orange and vanilla Creamsicle of my youth, albeit more luscious, and one with chunks of graham crackers.

Chocolate cup with sprinkles

Vanilla in a cake cone

Being a purist, I opted to go with the basics, vanilla and chocolate. The vanilla was pale straw in hue, silky in texture and tasted decadently rich. The chocolate, too, was rich—and creamy.

To be honest, I had been expecting soft serve, as I recalled the custard served years ago at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island (frozen custard reportedly was invented in Coney Island). But that was not the case here. The frozen stuff here is pre-made daily, hardpacked and scooped out of a container.

The story of Whit’s goes back to 2003, in Granville, Ohio, where Chuck Whitman, joined by his wife Lisa, put to use his passion and experience—working in his father’s food service business and 21 years working at a dairy manufacturing plant—and opened a frozen custard store. It took off and soon the couple began franchising.  Today there are 52 Whit’s locations, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast. The Boca franchise is owned by Bruce and Sarah Weber, according to Florida corporation records.

Frozen custard recipes date back to the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that commercial frozen custard machines were invented. It is said that the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago popularized frozen custard and by 1940 frozen custard stands were sprouting throughout the East and Midwest.

Frozen custard, made with cream, eggs, and sugar, is thicker, smoother, and creamier than ice cream, because frozen custard has a higher butterfat content and is made using a slower, labor-intensive process that minimizes the amount of air blended into the mix, referred to as “overrun.” The FDA stipulates that if a product contains at least 10 percent fat and more than 1.4 percent egg yolks, it can be called frozen custard, French ice cream or French custard ice cream. Gelato is denser, as there is less air whipped into it as it’s churned. Gelato typically has less fat than ice cream, as it is often milk-based (instead of cream) and contains little or no egg yolks. Also, frozen custard is typically served at 26 degrees—10 degrees warmer than ice cream.

Whether you’re a nostalgic former Midwesterner, or just interested in something different, a visit to Whit’s presents an opportunity to try one of last great frozen treats that’s not being mass produced. 

Whit’s Frozen Custard

3551 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton FL 33431

(561) 465-3428



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