Montoursville, Pa. — One of Lycoming County's oldest ice cream parlors is opening its doors Friday for its 96th season of operation.
Eder's Ice Cream, located several miles north of Montoursville on Route 87, was recently acquired by a fourth generation member of the Eder family. Tye Sheets and wife Ashley took over in January.
"This has always been my dream to continue the family business," said Tye. Eder's Ice Cream began during the Great Depression when Tye's great-grandfather, Bruce Eder, decided to start making ice cream on his dairy farm on Route 87. "Pappy Bruce was trying to think of ways to save excess milk so he made it into ice cream," Tye said.
By 1927, Bruce opened a small ice cream shack several feet from where the current building stands today. The current shop was opened in 1933, Tye said.
The space now has several seats, a long counter in the serving area, and a freezer for half gallons of ice cream. A portrait of founder Bruce Eder hangs on the back wall, as well as a portrait of his daughter, Carmen Eder Sheets, who took over the business in the 1970s.
By 2013, Carmen's daughter Melissa Labatch and her husband Rob took over. The torch was passed this year to Tye, who is Melissa and Rob's nephew. "It was expected that I'd eventually take it over," Tye said.
All of the ice cream was homemade on the premises and still is today. Several staff, including family members, come in each week to make the ice cream. It's a process Tye learned first learned when he was 8.
It seems that 8 is the magic number for Eder's descendants, as Bruce taught Tye's grandmother Carmen how to make ice cream when she was 8. Tye's father, Tom Sheets, also learned how to make ice cream at age 8. Everyone in the family had some sort of involvement in the business at an early age. "We all started sweeping the floors at 4 and making ice cream at 8," Tye said.
While in high school, Tye continued to come into the shop to make ice cream. The family did not have written recipes, so Tye wrote them down so that future generations could have them.
Though Eder's started out with just a few flavors, today they serve up to 28 during the summer season. "Our two most popular flavors are cookie dough and meltaway," Tye said. The meltaway is peanut butter ice cream with Reese's peanut butter cups and chocolate syrup.
Eder's also has seasonal flavors such as blueberry, peach; robin's egg in the spring; pumpkin in the fall; and peppermint around the holidays. For the fruit flavors, Eder's uses fresh fruit from local farms. They also partner with local coffee shop Alabaster for their coffee ice cream. "We make about 1,500 gallons of ice cream per week during our peak season," Tye said.
There's a reason the shop goes through hundreds of gallons of ice cream per week. Drive by Eder's on any given warm day and you'll see that the parking lot is full, and families are sitting outside enjoying ice cream.
Tye said he feels it's become tradition for many local families to come out on a sunny day and enjoy ice cream. Many people are willing to support small businesses. Plus, the portion sizes are generous. "We don't like you to go home hungry, so we always give you plenty of ice cream," Tye said.
Tye and Ashley don't have plans to change anything at the shop, with the exception of minor updates in the building. Prices will remain the same, Tye said. The flavors will be the same, with the occasional addition of a new one. For the opening day on March 17, Eder's will introduce a new limited edition flavor: Irish cream.
As in past years, the season will start off being open on weekends only, with hours of 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays, and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. By summer, the shop will be open six days per week. "When the kids get out of school, we start opening around 2," Ashley said. Most of their servers are students, she added. The shop typically closes for the season by early December.
Follow Eder's Ice Cream's Facebook page for updates on hours and weekly flavors.
Tye and Ashley said they look forward to greeting customers this weekend. "We're excited to open for another season," Ashley said.