Enjoy butter brickle ice cream? You should know the candy was created in Council Bluffs

Toffee was first sold by the John G. Woodward Company in 1924. Trademarked as butter brickle, the treat has stood the test of time.
Posted at 1:12 PM, Jul 08, 2024

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — What if Positively the Heartland was... a flavor? It might taste like butter brickle. In 1924, John C. Woodward Company, on West Broadway in Council Bluffs, released the butterscotch-inspired candy - created by Arthur Dempsey.

  • Who first mixed it with ice cream? That's a bit of a question. Some credit Omaha's Blackstone Hotel in the late 1920s, which would make sense since the candy was distributed at the time throughout the area.
  • Richard Warner, Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, says he was made aware of another version. A descendant of the Woodward's neighbor at Lake Okoboji explained their relative suggested packing the candy in ice cream so it wouldn't melt on the way to the lake.
  • Fenn Bros. Ice Cream and Candy Company trademarked chocolate-coated toffee, but in the 1970s, sold the recipe to Leaf, Inc., which made Heath Bars. Those assets were later acquired by The Hershey Company.

Continue reading for the expanded, on-air story:
Ice cream and summer just go together - a combination as natural toffee and ice cream.

Susie Larsen at Doozie's knows butter brickle ice cream like the back of her hand.

"It just takes trial and error. You know, you make a little bit... you taste it," she explained.

Larsen created her recipe in 2008, which today, is a closely guarded secret.

Butter brickle didn't start with ice cream, but as a candy made by the John G. Woodward Company in Council Bluffs. The factory sat at 211 W. Broadway.

"Westerners were a tough lot, but they liked their sweets. Way back, almost from day one in Council Bluffs, there were these little tiny candy shops," Richard Warner of the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County shared.

Expanding, butterscotch was popular in England and made its way to Council Bluffs through Chicago.

Woodward's candy maker Arthur Dempsey had the idea for butter brickle, which was trademarked as such in 1924.

It's a point of pride for neighbors, Warner said.

"Anybody alive today grew up in a time when our wonderful neighbor to the west, which we love, Omaha - but it's eight times larger. And we kind of got used to their history and their news and they control the spotlight. People in businesses can move. But our history can never be taken away from us. And I think the more of these things we know... 'Hey, Council Bluffs had a hand in this.' I think it fosters civic pride. It's something we all can be proud of. Not to mention, it's one really good ice cream."

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