The Ohio Gas Station Chain You'll Travel To For Its Ice Cream

Ohio may be known as the birthplace of aviation and home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but residents of the Buckeye State also take pride in their unique gas stations and convenience stores that feature some exceptional ice cream. UDF, short for United Dairy Farmers, sells everything you'd expect from a roadside gas station: gasoline, snacks, beverages, and basic groceries. But it's the ice cream that arguably keeps residents and out-of-towners coming back generation after generation. Many of them will tell you that it is, hands down, the best ice cream in the state, and much better than even the best fast food brands.


Since the 1940s, UDF has been churning out ice cream and other tasty treats made with its own local cow's milk. Other high quality ingredients make the ice cream flavors stand out and transform into delicious milkshakes, malts, ice cream sodas, sundaes, and classic cones. What started as a singular business has now expanded to over 200 locations across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, no doubt due in part to its unforgettable ice cream products and the demand for them.

History of United Dairy Farms

During a time when people still had milk delivered to their front doors, the Lindner family opened United Dairy Farmers in Norwood, Ohio. The company was able to sell milk from the family's own dairy cows for 28 cents per gallon, roughly half of what it cost for delivery in 1940. While local residents may have initially come to the new store for the milk prices, they stayed (and returned) for the ice cream that the family made and sold. Over the course of the next 10 years, UDF opened eight more locations in Ohio, complete with an ice cream counter at each one. It's safe to say that, at this point, when patrons saw signs for United Dairy Farmers, they knew they could get a cold, sweet treat if they stopped.


Today, you can get ice cream in a number of gas station and convenience store chains, but it's usually in the form of individually wrapped bars or ice cream sandwiches in freezer chests, or perhaps milkshakes you can order with your burger. But UDF stands out for its legit ice cream counters, which bring a sense of nostalgic Americana — a nod to old school soda fountains in their heyday. The flavor selections are impressive, with offerings from classic butter pecan and strawberry cheesecake, to seasonal flavors like peppermint stick chocolate chip and fresh peach.

Gas stations that offer more than gas

These days there are a number of gas stations that stand out as much more than places to fill up your gas tank. Just like United Dairy Farmers became synonymous with hand dipped ice cream, Pennsylvania-based Wawa's sells coffee that has a cult-like following. Another PA chain, Sheetz, has proven that gas station food is leaving its bad reputation behind. 7-Eleven put 32-ounce Big Gulps on the map of memorable gas station offerings; Texas-based Buc-ee's has become enormously popular due to its numerous gas pumps, legendary brisket sandwiches, and sparkling-clean bathrooms; and fans of QuikTrip can rarely leave without a slice of pizza.


So, the next time you're on a road trip, it's definitely worth seeking out these gas stations that offer a little something extra and special, but wait for a sighting of United Dairy Farmers to get your ice cream fix because no factory-made Chipwich or unmeltable Drumstick will compare.