Gifford’s Ice Cream to Make Local Comeback Under New Name

A former owner of the chain is partnering with a local chocolate shop to produce some of the ice cream maker’s favorite treats


Dr. Mark Schutz and Dolly Hunt at Mazza Gallerie, where Shutz’s Kron Chocolatiers plans to begin offering ice cream


A longtime Friendship Heights chocolatier is teaming up with the former owner of the venerable Gifford’s Ice Cream chain to bring back the once popular ice cream to the area.

Mark Schutz, whose family has operated Kron Chocolatier at Mazza Gallerie for 32 years, spent the past four years searching for the recipe of the thick, creamy ice cream that turned Gifford’s into a Montgomery County institution. He ran into a dead end trying to connect with a member of the Gifford family, which started the chain in 1938 in Silver Spring.

However, with the help of a private investigator, he located the address of Dolly Hunt, who owned the Gifford’s brand from the late 1980s until she sold the ice cream shops to her former manager in 1999.

The chain, which at one point had eight shops in the District and Maryland, including a location near Bethesda’s Landmark Theater, as well as an 8,200-square-foot production facility in Silver Spring, was known for its rich ice cream, thick chocolate syrup and lengthy history in the area.

Schutz wasn’t sure how to approach Hunt about his idea to bring the ice cream back and sell it, so he left a note at Hunt’s Bethesda home with his contact information, letting her know he is also a longtime fan of the Swiss chocolate sauce.

Hunt, who says she still makes the Gifford’s caramels for friends, then called Schutz and the two struck a deal to bring back some of the chain’s treats.

“I was excited when he showed an interest,” Hunt said. “There’s no reason I couldn’t do it again. It’s not like I stopped making caramels and I can still make the ice cream too, but you need a big machine for that.”

The plan has one catch—Schutz and Hunt can’t use the Gifford’s name or logo. Hunt’s former manager sold the business to an investor who operated it for years before selling it to a Baltimore investor who ran it into the ground in 2010. After the chain closed, the brand’s trademarks were sold to a different ice cream maker with the same name—Gifford’s of Maine—in 2011.

But that hasn’t deterred the pair.

“We’re bringing Dolly Hunt’s expertise in making chocolate sauces, ice cream and caramels back,” Schutz said Friday as he and Hunt sat together inside Mazza Gallerie.

Hunt said making each batch of ice cream is a little different; it’s not dependent on some “secret” recipe.

“You have to tweak it a little bit,” Hunt said. “Some people just follow a recipe, but sometimes you have to do a little more for every batch. You have to taste it, then you know if it needs a little bit of something.”

She added that ice cream making is also dependent on using the proper technique—ensuring the product is churned at the right speed and the right temperature and that the ingredients are sourced properly.

“If you churn it just right, it makes it melt in your mouth,” Hunt said.

Schutz has already installed a new caramel cooker in his store and was scheduled to receive an ice cream maker Friday from Emery Thompson—the same company that produced Gifford’s equipment.

He said over the next four months he, his son, Alex, and his wife, Trish, will learn from Hunt how to make several of the former chain’s treats. Alex and Trish primarily run the day-to-day operations of the chocolate shop while Mark works as an anesthesiologist in Bethesda.

Schutz said he hopes to begin serving the ice cream in the shop in April, sometime after the busy chocolate sales season that starts with Valentine’s Day and runs through Easter.

“We’re great at chocolate,” Schutz said, “so moving into a different field with a great product, we want to do it slow and right. We’re not going to make a low-quality ice cream product. We’re going for all natural and using real ingredients.”

He recently took a one-week “cow to cone” class at Penn State University to help understand the science behind ice cream making.

Schutz said Kron won’t sell the ice cream by the scoop because the shop doesn’t have enough space. His plan is to have customers call in or order ice cream online, such as pints or half-gallons, and then pick it up at the store after its made fresh. The shop may also offer a “prescription” service in which customers can create their own flavors that the store will make for them. However, longtime flavors that tap into customers’ nostalgia, like the Swiss chocolate ice cream, coconut and traditional vanilla, are likely to be back.

Schutz also said that the shop may offer milkshakes, too, although Hunt warned that shakes didn’t produce much of a profit back when Gifford’s was selling them.

“The kids [who worked at our shops] would put so much ice cream in the shakes, and would be encouraged by the customers to put more and they would make these really thick shakes,” Hunt said. “I don’t know if we made much money on milkshakes.”

Local shop to bring back Gifford’s Ice Cream

February 16, 2016 12:11 am

WASHINGTON — The taste of a local brand of ice cream that disappeared years ago is being brought back: Gifford’s Ice Cream.

Mark Schutz, the owner of a Friendship Heights chocolate shop, wanted to recreate the Gifford’s Ice Cream experience so badly, Bethesda Magazine reports, he used a private investigator to track down the woman who owned the brand from the late 1980s through the 90s.
 Now Dolly Hunt has agreed to help Schutz’ family-run shop – Kron Chocolatier at Mazza Gallerie – bring back the taste of that much-loved ice cream, hopefully by April.
 The shop plans to sell it in containers such as pints or half-gallons, rather than in single servings.
 There’s one catch — Kron Chocolatier can’t call its yummy stuff “Gifford’s”.
 The name and logo was sold a few years ago to unrelated ice cream-maker, Gifford’s of Maine, which began selling its ice cream in the D.C. region in 2014.

Old world taste in new world capital


If you want a chocolate that tastes like real chocolate and nothing else, you have to make the trek to Krön Chocolatier in Mazza Gallerie, 5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC. Ask for the Budapest cream truffles — they are kept in a freezer behind the counter. They are absolutely fresh, delicious and liable to be sold out. If you don’t want to risk disappointment, call ahead (202-966-4946) to reserve yours.

When you get there, don’t be put off by the decor. It doesn’t look like a place where you’d find high-end chocolate, but trust me. Walk in and ask for the Budapest truffles. (They’re called that because they are made from the original owner’s recipe from Budapest.)

Pure & simple

They are simple squares of chocolate, dusted with cocoa powder. No preservatives, which may be one reason the staff recommends eating them frozen, but wait 15 minutes or so. The chocolate smell is so strong and pure, it reminds you of what chocolate is supposed to be like. And when you eat them — absolutely smooth, dark chocolate, not too sweet. They are amazing.

I was told by Alex, the owner’s son, that the truffles are the most popular item in the store, winning best truffle in DC for 5 years in a row. I believed him because the entire time we were there, people stopped in to buy some, and they sold out while we were talking. Luckily, we’d already claimed our box.

Plan B

If you visit during the summer months and keeping the truffles cold/frozen for any length of time is problematic, you could take home one of their chocolate assortments instead. Not to-die-for like the truffles, but the chocolate is good quality, the candies are not overly sweet, and they include unusual ingredients like whole pistachios, cashews and dried cranberries. They make for a pretty gift box that tastes good.

Chocolates made on-site

All of the chocolates and other candies sold here are made in the kitchen at the back of the store. They offer a wide range of molded, filled, dipped and solid chocolates. Plus they will do custom molds (when we were there, they were packing an order of life-size chocolate footballs for the Washington Redskins) and other custom candy orders.

Alex said that within reason, they can make anything into chocolate. He said the chocolate torsos on display are popular gifts for people who have survived breast cancer. (Not sure what the almost life-size chocolate legs celebrate.)

And it seems like they’ll dip just about anything into chocolate: In addition to fresh fruit which they dip on Fridays, they dip dried fruit, candies (Gummi bears are popular with kids), pretzels, even potato chips, which Alex described as similar to chocolate-covered bacon, and my sister said sounded ideal for PMS cravings. Although the chocolate is good and the chips were salty, it didn’t really come together for us. But then I’m not a fan of chocolate-covered bacon either.

Although the store looks like a gift shop and it’s been in business over 30 years, this is not an old-fashioned candy store. I think the chocolate appeals to a more mature taste, and they experiment with it. New items this year include a peppermint bark, which had a candy cane crunch in a good creamy candy drizzled with chocolate. Amazingly, not too sweet. Other new items are hot chili & jalapeno truffles, blueberry wafers & chocolate mousse-filled figs.

If you can’t make it to DC, they do have an online store and will ship anywhere.


Chocolate dipped cookie dough

Stop in out of the heat for a cooling treat from our freezer- milk or dark chocolate dipped cookie dough-$2.50/each

Hungarian Budapest cream truffles

New batches of our wonderful Hungarian Budapest cream truffles are being poured as we speak. We will offer them in a 3/4 pound velvet heart box for $35 available only once a year.

The store is changing it’s look to Valentine’s Day.  Drop by for a sneak peek!

Mother’s Day

Getting ready for Mother’s Day!  New Rose Boxes are in!

Easter Sale

All Easter eggs on sale NOW!! 20% off in store and online.

Easter gifts

Come in to visit for Easter gifts.  We have assorted baskets, chocolate bunnies, eggs, peeps, fresh fruit and more!

Start a sweet new school year

The start of a new school year is always filled with excitement for some and anxiety for others. To celebrate or ease in the transition, chocolate treats are always a nice surprise for your student upon pick up. Please take a look under the “Small Treats” category for the best ideas for your family.

Chocolate covered matzah

Check it out- We have chocolate covered matzah for passover!  Available in Milk or Dark chocolate $17/8oz box  Call 202.966.4946 to order.  We also offer marshmallows, nuts or dried fruits covered in Milk or Dark chocolate for Passover- see site to order.