I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about a gas station, but we have found an amazing chain of gas stations up here called United Dairy Farmers, or simply UDF. They really are incredible! UDF has over 200 convenience store locations in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Carl Lindner and his children started the chain in the city of Norwood, Ohio, in 1938. Norwood is a small city just north of Cincinnati. Carl Lindner decided to drop out of high school during the Great Depression. He helped his family run their dairy business and develop the convenience store chain as a means of skipping the delivery middleman. This allowed their dairy products to be sold at a lower cost.
United Dairy Farmers locations look like your typical gas station from the outside. They have a UDF sign with gas prices, gas pumps, and a convenience store. However, the similarity ends there.
The first time we walked inside the convenience store, I was pleasantly surprised to see a cheery looking ice cream parlor on one side of the store. Two people sporting UDF aprons were manning the little ice cream shop. It had a counter with different flavors of UDF ice cream behind the glass, just like you’d see at a Baskin Robbins. Milk shake and frozen yogurt machines were behind the counter along with cute red cups, ice cream cones, and all the fixings for the perfect sundae. Bistro tables and chairs were set up for customers to sit at, relax, and enjoy their ice cream cone or milk shake.
I was lucky to finally get a chance to snap some pictures inside this particular UDF. Usually, there are at least a few couples, families, or teenagers buying ice cream. The sitting areas are unique in each store, but they all have a quaint and cozy vibe.
The UDF stores also include a small bakery section beside the ice cream parlor. The donuts, cookies, and pastries available behind the glass come from Cincinnati’s Busken Bakery chain. The Busken Bakery is a family owned bakery that was started in 1928. It has many local stores and also sells its baked goods inside convenience and grocery stores. If it’s too cold out for a milkshake, you can pick up some delicious donuts or cookies instead.
In the store section, everything you need to make a simple bowl of ice cream, a sundae, a cone, or a float can be found neatly arranged above the UDF half gallon tubs. They even have glass jars of homemade chocolate and caramel sauce. The arrangement of the ice cream products is so cute!
Our first United Dairy Farmers purchase was a half gallon of butter pecan ice cream. Michael and I both agreed; H.E.B.’s Creamy Creations and Blue Bell taste creamier and are both higher quality ice creams. Our butter pecan ice cream had a bit of an icy texture to it, a bit of a crunch that wasn’t from the pecans. However, UDF is not marketing its brand to be like Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s. The tubs cost $4, and we were very satisfied with the quality of the ice cream for that price.
The ice cream parlor and products make UDF a special place indeed, but what is most important to me is the stores always have clean restrooms! That’s how we discovered United Dairy Farmers in the first place. Each day, we do lot of driving for work and need to stop along the way to take a break. We used one of the first times I requested a restroom break as an excuse to see what these UDF gas stations were all about. After my first stop at a UDF, I didn’t want to stop anywhere else! It reminds me of the Buc-ee’s guarantee of a clean restroom every time. I can count on the UDF.
I’m already imagining taking out little nieces and nephews to get an ice cream at one of these gas stations when they come to visit. Their parents will surely enjoy it as well.