Nothing tastes like summer
more than ice cream,
and Middlebury reflects a rich history
in Vic’s Ice Cream.
By: Tina Menefee
The warmth of summer brings a community to life. Outdoor activities arrive in abundance. Everywhere you look, the signs point to summer as bicyclists and motorcycles take to the road. The outdoor overflows with people soaking in the season, while anticipating picnics and evenings on the porch or in the back yard. All of these activities evoke memories of childhood and friends.
The Man Behind the Mixer
One friend of the Middlebury community who is brought to mind during those moments of reflection is Vic Hooley. He probably didn’t know he was getting in the business of making memories when he purchased the Middlebury Dairy from Lawrence Breniser in 1960. The dairy sold and delivered ice cream and dairy products to over 125 families in the Middlebury area. Vic knew the dairy industry well after working at the shop for Breniser for 18 years.
Eventually, Vic and his wife Ruth became the proud owners of the soda shop known as Vic’s Ice Cream. Vic eventually made 60 different flavors of ice cream in his shop. He took pride in the fact that his ice cream was made of pure fruits and natural flavors.
According to the Goshen News, in 1986, Vic was making about 20,000 gallons of that delicious, pure ice cream a year. But, Vic probably didn’t know his business not only was stirring up ice cream, it also was creating lifelong memories for Middlebury residents.
From the beginning of the Middlebury Dairy in 1932, the ice cream and dairy delivery business expanded with the addition of the soda shop in 1939. After Lawrence Briesner purchased the dairy in 1948, he began to phase out the home delivery aspect of the business. Vic Hooley ran the business until 1989.
When mentioning Vic to anyone who knew him, a smile is usually the first response. The thought of Vic’s Ice Cream not only makes the mouth water, but it also prompts warm feelings for those who knew Vic personally.
One such comment comes from Missy Pixley as she shares from her own experience: “We always got our milk and ice cream at Vic’s. During the blizzard of ’78 he called our house and told Mom, ‘I have 2 gallons of milk held back for you whenever you can get in to get them.’ That was Vic.”
Vic’s is still located just north of what is currently the Middlebury Elementary building. Until 1969, that same school served students in grades one through twelve. Former students remember leaving school during lunch and going to Vic’s on “spinach day.” They also fondly remember ice cream after soccer games, free samples that were generously given when Vic was around, and the chance to watch the ice cream being made. They remember Vic’s welcoming environment and atmosphere.
Many high school students have worked behind the counter and had the opportunity to work closely with the ice cream connoisseur. According to one former employee, they were allowed to eat as much ice cream as they wanted. Stacey James also remembers that an employee’s height determined their ability to scoop the ice cream.
Says James, “You had to be able to reach the ice cream, and if you weren’t very tall, it was difficult.” James worked at Vic’s when she was in high school. After Stacey married and had children, she fondly remembers taking her son Ayrton to Vic’s on his first birthday.
Vic’s was eventually purchased by Paul and Debra Heinrich, in 1994. Vic’s ice cream is still made in Middlebury, and is now sold alongside pizzas and grinders as part of the restaurant chain Mancino’s.
Vic’s ice cream is still available on a hot summer day, or even in the middle of winter, and is still located on south Main Street. Although Vic and his wife are long gone, customers are still greeted by an old fashion soda shop setting.
The shop offers many flavors of ice cream from the original recipes.
And…Vic’s is still in the business of making memories.
Vic’s ice cream is found alongside Samuel Mancino’s
located at 422 S. Main St.
Middlebury, IN 46540