NASHVILLE, Michigan — Nestled off the side of M-66, about two miles south of downtown Nashville, Mich., sits the worldwide headquarters of MOO-ville Creamery.
The Westendorp family started the family-owned company in 2005, and in just 17 short years since, they now produce the nation's best chocolate ice cream, according to a trade group.
"We've been attending the National Ice Cream Retailers Association Convention for years, but we never entered the competition until this year," said Troy Westendorp, who heads the company's ice cream production. "We never thought we'd win."
Any place that makes ice cream across the United States can enter the competition, from the smaller producers all the way up to the biggest names in the business, like Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs.
"We've won some state competitions over the years, but never thought we had a shot at the national level with so much prestige," said Westendorp.
The competition unfolded in Orlando, Fl., in late November of this year. MOO-ville not only won the blue ribbon for having the best chocolate ice cream, it also took home a red ribbon for its vanilla and a white ribbon for its strawberry, which were the second- and third-place awards for those flavors, respectively.
"It kind of justifies what my parents sacrificed those first few years," Westendorp said. "They built the framework for us so we could take it to the next level."
So, what makes MOO-ville's chocolate ice cream so "udderly" delicious?
"We don't have any secrets around here," Westendorp added. "We use all granulated sugar instead of corn syrup, which makes the ice cream thicker.
"We also push the butterfat percentage up to as much as 17% and we also use two different types of cocoa that we get from South America."
He adds that since the blue ribbon news broke in early December, the demand for their national champion chocolate ice cream has been at an all-time high level.
"It's been flying off the shelves," Westendorp said. "People have been driving from two, sometimes three hours away to taste-test a scoop and buy some."
Westendorp added that MOO-ville plans to enter the NICRA ice cream competition next year, hoping to defend their title, then continue entering for years to come.
If traveling all the way to the middle of Barry County isn't something you're able to do, MOO-ville Creamery has three other Michigan locations, including Ionia, Zeeland and Eaton Rapids.
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