The Work We Do: Living a childhood fantasy with Stu Feldschuh at Snowflake

My name is Stuart Feldschuh and my wife, Carolyn, and I have owned Snowflake Ice Cream Shoppe in Riverhead since 1988. The business was launched in 1953 by Herb and Joan Kunitz and we still use the original recipe.

At the time we purchased the business, we had been working on Wall Street. It was right after the big crash of the ’80s, and we had a home out here. We decided we wanted to leave New York City and Wall Street and wanted to work out here. Snowflake was the place where we used to get our ice cream; we’d stop here on our way back to the city.

Snowflake has been in Riverhead a long time and it will be here after we’re gone. We’re just the ones watching it for this time.

In the 1940 and ’50s, there were a lot of shops that made ice cream and it was all homemade. In the 1950s, supermarkets started selling ice cream as a cost leader, to get people into their stores, and Americans got accustomed to eating crummy ice cream. Herb and Joan never changed with the times. He was very stubborn and still made homemade original ice cream with the best ingredients and I just happen to be fortunate that he did it all these years and he was the one who taught me. I add different things to the ice creams, I make up different flavors, but I’m basically making the same ice cream he did back in the 1950s.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs in my life, but it was always a fantasy to own an ice cream shop. When I was a kid, different homes would build a bar in their basement and I always pictured someday having my own house and building an ice cream shop in my basement. When I was in grade school, I worked for the Good Humor man in the summer. I would work on a tricycle selling Good Humor bars.

This isn’t really a job for us. It’s more for fun. The community is really involved; a lot of our flavors are suggested by customers. It’s a real interactive process. And we always have a different flavor of the week.

It’s a dying thing; there’s not many people making it from scratch anymore. If I make banana ice cream, I start out with fresh bananas. Right now blueberries are in season, so we’re doing a fresh blueberry topping; the blueberries came from Riverhead. We’re doing an apricot-raspberry topping, and they’re all local fruit. In another few weeks peaches will be in, all local. We just finished strawberries, too. We try and keep it simple and keep it basic, and whenever we can use stuff that’s local, we’ll use it.

That’s the secret to what we’ve been doing. I don’t buy extracts or flavors. If I can get a real berry, I’ll start with that.

‘The Work We Do’ is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview. Then watch the video on facebook.com/theriverheadnewsreview.

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