Whenever I see Blue Moon available at an ice cream shop, I immediately consider getting a scoop. I mean, come on, that blue color is mesmerizing, isn’t it? If you’ve never had it, the flavor is pretty indescribable, which is a remarkable trait for a food to have. Aside from the obvious creamy sweetness of the ice cream, I guess I’d liken it to Froot Loops, perhaps, but in a mild sort of way. The flavor varies a bit from shop to shop, and in the Midwest, each recipe you encounter is slightly different. The makers of this mysterious ice cream would never tell you what it contains, which is why Atlas Obscura offers a fun dive into the secrecy behind the beloved ice cream flavor.
Writer Luke Fater even goes so far as to ask for hints. He talked to James Doig, Vice President of Weber Flavors, which is the company that owns Blue Moon’s patent. “I have the formula here in front of me,” Doig told Fater, “But I’m not gonna tell you what’s in it.” Well, it was worth a shot.
If you’re not from the Midwest, you might have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Until reading the Atlas Obscura piece, I hadn’t realized that Blue Moon is a very localized flavor: you can find it in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, but finding it beyond those confines might be damn near impossible. Its origins are also confusing, as there are multiple theories of who invented the flavor blend in the first place. The Chicago Tribune has an investigative piece that explores multiple possibilities.
There’s one prominent and fairly likely story tracing the flavor back to a man named Bill Sidon. Sidon fled from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1939 and eventually came to a company called Petran Products, which was eventually folded into the previously mentioned Weber Flavors company.
James Doig is convinced that Sidon was the true inventor of Blue Moon. But there’s some information provided in the Chicago Tribune timeline that doesn’t quite make sense: Petran Products claimed it had been using Blue Moon’s flavoring since 1939, before Sidon made it to America. There’s also a 1931 edition of Ohio’s Marion Star newspaper that features an ad for a local ice cream parlor, with Blue Moon listed as an available flavor.
Ask the ice cream manufacturers, and they won’t be able to tell you what’s in it, either. They simply purchase the flavoring from a different company that’s responsible for the formula, so that information is walled off to them.
One final theory is that Blue Moon is flavored with castoreum, a flavor compound we’ve previously written about. In short, castoreum is derived from a gland situated firmly in a beaver’s ass, used to mark its territory in the wild. But its presence in Blue Moon seems pretty unlikely, in case you were concerned.
If you’ve got some time today, give the Atlas Obscura piece a read. Fater invites flavor experts to try breaking down some of the spice components, with some pretty interesting guesses. But in the end, the truth is, we may never know just what goes into Blue Moon. Maybe some secrets are just not meant to be uncovered.