Ted Drewes, a former tennis pro, began selling custard with a traveling carnival in 1929 and opened his first custard stand on Route 66 in St. Louis the next year. It was not until 1959 that his son, Ted, Jr., came up with the product that has become the signature dish here and a specialty now copied by soft-serve joints coast to coast: the concrete.
How it began: Pestered by a neighborhood boy named Steve Gamber, who never was satisfied with how thick his milk shake was, the younger Drewes made a shake with no milk whatsoever, just custard and flavoring. He handed it to Gamber upside down, dubbing his creation a “concrete” because at the time many St. Louis ice cream shops were selling extra-thick drinks that they called “cement shakes.” Of course, concrete is stronger than cement.
Today Ted Drewes has two locations, both of them mobbed all summer long with happy customers spooning into huge cups full of the creamy-smooth delight. It must be noted that technically, Drewes’ product is not ice cream. It is frozen custard, meaning it is egg rich and ultra creamy. There’s nothing more purely dairy-delish than vanilla, but you can mix it with your choice from a list of dozens of different flavoring agents from chocolate and strawberry to fudge, cherries, cookies, nuts, and candy bars.
If you are far away and seriously crave this superb super-ice cream (as is the case for many St. Louis expatriates), Ted Drewes is equipped with dry ice to mail-order custard anywhere you need it.