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We all still scream for ice cream!

Times change, but this summer dessert favorite remains largely the same

August 6, 2014

» click to enlarge «
Dan Bora, co-owner of Nice Modern Creamery in Madison Heights, creates a made-to-order serving of ice cream using nitrogen to instantly freeze the concoction.
Erma’s Original Frozen Custard, in Warren and Shelby Township, has been serving custard for 72 years.

METRO DETROIT — What’s sweet, creamy and just cold enough to take the edge off of that sometimes brutal Michigan summer heat?

That’s right, it’s ice cream — and no doubt you’re salivating now just at the thought of that tasty treat. Whether you’re a fan of classics like chocolate and vanilla, or you’re a convert to new flavor musings like balsamic strawberry, there’s no denying that ice cream has stood the test of time and is still beloved by kids of all ages.

That’s the motto over at Erma’s Original Frozen Custard. The popular custard joint has locations in Warren and Shelby Township, and customers come every summer to get a taste of Erma’s custard recipe that’s been drawing crowds since 1942.

“Erma’s started out as just a roadside custard stand. Over the years, it kind of built up, but we’ve been known for our light, fluffy custard for 72 years,” said Jason Eagle, marketing director of Erma’s.

Every year, Erma’s opens for the season on April Fool’s Day and closes on Halloween. For the months in between, the custard shop keeps it simple — chocolate and vanilla custard every day, with a few special flavors that change from week to week, such as pistachio, dragon fruit peach or Wild Erma, packed with seasonal berries.

It’s not a huge menu — and the sugar, egg yolk and butterfat-laden recipes are certainly not for those watching their waistline — but it’s a time-honored tradition that brings customers back to a simpler time, Eagle said.

“It’s cool and refreshing and brings back childhood memories of going to the corner store or having the ice cream man come down the street,” he said. “I always say I get to make people smile every day.”

But if you ask Dan Bora, owner of Nice Modern Creamery in Madison Heights, there’s nothing wrong with bringing a new twist to an old favorite.

Since the soft opening of the creamery earlier this spring, Bora has quietly been serving up his unique ice cream that’s made to order. That’s right — Nice Modern Creamery is able to make ice cream on the spot for customers with the help of nitrogen.

“It creates a super fresh product because it freezes it so instantly at minus 320 degrees,” said Bora. “It doesn’t allow crystallization to form, so it’s super smooth compared to gelato or other ice cream which have some small ice crystals in them.”

Aside from the science-fiction-esque process of creating ice cream, there are a few other elements of Nice Modern Creamery that Bora said make the shop unique. He uses local ingredients, right down to the dairy products, and his team is constantly trying to create original flavors, like salted caramel with home-cooked caramel and olive oil vanilla bean ice cream. He even has vegan options for those who would rather leave the cream out of their ice cream.

“There’s also an entertainment factor, because the nitrogen releases this smoke. The kids really like it, and it makes for a really good Friday or Saturday date night, or a night out with the kids or whatever,” he said.

That’s what it’s all about, after all. Though Nice might be reinventing the wheel, the store is keeping the same family-friendly feeling that has made ice cream such a summer staple for decades.

“We’re very passionate about creating a beautiful moment that people can come enjoy; we’re about being good hosts,” he said. “We believe dessert can change the world.”

On Aug. 15, Nice will host its official grand opening celebration.

About the author

Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki covers Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Franklin and Bingham Farms along with Birmingham Public Schools, Oakland County Parks and Recreation and Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center. Esshaki has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2011 and attended the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Oakland Community College.


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