As the weather turned warm this week, my thoughts turned to ice cream and I quickly focused on the Oberweis Dairy store on Chesterfield Airport Road as the place to get my ice cream fix. But the path I took to get there wound through my childhood and memories of the milkman leaving glass bottles of milk on my parents' doorstep.
Surprisingly, Oberweis Dairy still delivers milk just like the old days: in glass returnable bottles placed right on your front porch. They've been doing it since 1927. Home milk delivery is convenient, but is it better milk? Probably, for several reasons.
According to their website, Oberweis milk comes from individual small dairies contracted especially to produce milk for Oberweis. It's not uncommon for the milk to be on its way to your home the same day the cow was milked, so it's fresher. The cows are not given artificial hormones and are happier, they say. While it's scientific fact that happy cows produce more milk, it's not proven that the milk is better. Still, it gives you a nice warm feeling, doesn't it?
Oberweis states on their website they use a gentle pasteurization process which destroys less nutrients and vitamins than high-heat pasteurization. What's gentle pasteurization mean? Nothing really. There are two standard milk pasteurization processes. High Temperature Short Time (HTST) and Ultra High Temperature (UHT), so Oberweis probably uses HTST, which kills germs but leaves more nutrients. The down side is a shorter shelf life.
There's also a thing called somatic cell counts. The lower the count, the better the milk. The government allows a count of up to 750,000 per milliliter, but Oberweis only allows 250,000, and most of their producers register at 100,000 to 150,000 per unit. If so, that's pretty good, but it's also a bit of marketing mumbo jumbo.
In May of 1993, the Department of Agriculture conducted a study of 400 farms from 21 states, accounting for 80 percent of the milk cow operations in the U.S., and found an average count of 257,000, just slightly over Oberweis' 250,000 maximum.
Several calls to Oberweis headquarters were not returned.
Still, it does come in glass bottles and they do leave it at your door. Stop by their store, pick up a bottle and taste for yourself. Personally, I think it's good milk, and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. For those of the Jewish faith, their milk is certified Kosher, as are many of their other products.
But, hey, this was supposed to be a story about ice cream. The counter was attended by Karly, a senior at Marquette High School who has worked at the store for just over a year. She gave me samples of whatever flavors I wanted to taste, and I finally settled on a scoop each of chocolate peanut butter and Dulce de Leche, which roughly translates to candy made of milk. Both were creamy and delicious. The peanut butter wasn't prevalent enough in the chocolate in my opinion, but I did occasionally get a nice, gooey clump of it buried in the ice cream.
Their waffle cones are huge and definitely on my list for next time. The store also sells ice cream cakes and pies, cottage cheese, whipping cream, half and half, whipped cream in a can, cartons of ice cream and of course, milk—either whole, reduced fat or fat free. For the kids, or adults with a serious sweet tooth, there's chocolate, strawberry and vanilla milk. You'll also find eggs, bacon, butter and cheeses. All milk types are available for home delivery, and ice cream can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.
In a random search of Chesterfield addresses, two of them were in the Oberweis delivery area and one was not. To find out if delivery is available to your home, check their website.