After a Factory Fire, Gifford’s Ice Cream Avoids a Meltdown

A fire shut down its Skowhegan plant this winter, but the Maine ice cream brand is still scooping.

two scoops with rainbow sprinkles on a cone from Gifford's ice cream
By Will Grunewald
Photos by Tara Rice
From our July 2023 issue

Maine makes lots of ice cream, but few of those ice creams rival the high-butterfat decadence of Gifford’s. The 43-year-old operation can churn out a whopping 14,000 gallons of frozen dairy per day, and scoops from its stands — in Bangor, Farmington, Waterville, and Skowhegan — are a rite of summer. In February, though, a fire shut down the factory, in Skowhegan, and repairs are still ongoing. “In the spring, every other ice-cream manufacturer is doing what we wanted to be doing: building up inventories for summer,” says chief operations officer JC Gifford, who started in the family business nearly three decades ago, at 13, manning the counter at the Skowhegan stand’s mini-golf course. “Not that there’s ever a good time for something like this, but that timing was really bad.” After some scrambling, Gifford’s managed to temporarily contract out production — and to open all four stands on time. Retail availability lagged, and some flavors were missing, but the Skowhegan factory should be up and running again by fall. Then, next summer is pretty much just around the corner.

The company closed a stand in Auburn before last winter’s factory fire, but the real scoop is that its remaining four stands (and its presence in the freezer aisle) are back on track for summer.

April 2024, Down East Magazine

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