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Isalys & Klondike - Media Information
 
Click below for press releases about this book. To access the hi-res pictures:
1) click on the thumbnail for a full-size image, 2) right-click (Mac users just click and hold) to download.
 
Please credit the book Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's by Brian Butko. For more information, contact Stackpole Books at (800) 732-3669 or sales@stackpolebooks.com

 

PRESS RELEASE 1
300 Words

 

PRESS RELEASE 2
520 words

 

PRESS RELEASE 3
1,400 word author interview
 
PRESS RELEASE 4
15 Facts about Isaly's and Klondike
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Book cover of Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's by Brian Butko.
 
Author Brian Butko at the West View Isaly's near Pittsburgh.
The Isaly family proudly touted their heritage, such as with this Swiss Dairyman.
 Feel free to use these images, but please credit the book
Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's by Brian Butko.
 

PRESS RELEASE 1 - 300 words
 
KLONDIKE ICE CREAM BAR AND ITS ORIGINATORS RECALLED IN NEW BOOK
 
The Klondike bar, America's best-selling ice cream novelty, has a long history which is recounted in Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's. Author Brian Butko tells how a family-owned dairy marketed the bar regionally for six decades before America discovered it.
 
Isaly's [EYEZ-leez] Dairy was actually better known for its tall Skyscraper Cones than the Klondike.
 
"People still rave about Skyscraper Cones and Chipped Ham," says Butko. "They both gave you more than your money's worth, as did the Klondike. The Isaly family built their empire around that belief."
 
The earliest mention of the Klondike bar is a 1922 article listing its six flavors - including grape and maple! Like its competitor, the Good humor bar, Klondikes at the time were sold on a stick.
 
Isaly's became the world's largest dairy store chain by the 1940s, with 400 stores across Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
 
"The Isaly family cared about their products and stores," says Butko. "Henry Isaly once told an employee who'd suggested a way to save money, 'Let's give the profits to the customers.' That kind of caring filtered down to the employees."
 
The company followed postwar shoppers to suburbia, but couldn't compete with supermarkets and fast foods. When the Isaly family sold the company in 1972, outside investors increasingly saw the Klondike as more profitable than its labor-intensive stores. A few stores remain, but the bar has been produced by conglomerate Unilever since 1993.
 
Klondikes, Chipped Ham, and Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's, published by Stackpole Books, is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
 
An accompanying exhibit at the Pittsburgh Regional History Center recounts the company and Klondike's evolution.
 
Butko has also written about the Lincoln Highway and diners. You can learn more about his three books, all published by Stackpole, at http://www.brianbutko.com
 
###

PRESS RELEASE 2 - 520 words
 
KLONDIKE ICE CREAM BAR AND ISALY'S DAIRY RECALLED IN NEW BOOK
 
The Klondike bar, America's best-selling ice cream novelty, has a long history which is recounted in Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's. Author Brian Butko tells how a family-owned dairy marketed the bar regionally for six decades before America discovered it.
 
Isaly's [EYEZ-leez] Dairy was actually better known for its tall Skyscraper Cones than the Klondike.
 
"People still rave about Skyscraper Cones and Chipped Ham," says Butko. "They both gave you more than your money's worth, as did the Klondike. The Isaly family built their empire around that belief."
 
The earliest mention of the Klondike bar is a 1922 article listing its six flavors - including grape and maple! Like its competitor, the Good humor bar, Klondikes at the time were sold on a stick.
 
Beginning in Mansfield, Ohio, a century ago, William Isaly opened plants to wholesale milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Isaly, descended from Swiss dairy farmers, hit upon also opening retail stores. Owning the stores eliminated the middleman and assured quality for his products.
 
His sons took the reins as more plants opened: Marion, Youngstown, then Pittsburgh, Pa.
 
"Pittsburgh's 'Boulevard' plant was legendary," recalls Butko. "The 4-story headquarters opened in the depths of the Depression in a city with long-established dairies. The 'Boulevard' name was even adopted for Isaly's products, from coffee to eggs. The plant now houses medical offices, but it remains an art deco showpiece.
 
Plants continued opening: Canton, Akron, Columbus, and other small branches. By the 1940s, Isaly's was the world's largest dairy chain, with 400 stores across Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
 
"The Isaly family cared about their products and stores," says Butko. "Henry Isaly once told an employee who'd suggested a way to save money, 'Let's give the profits to the customers.' That kind of caring filtered down to the employees."
 
The company followed postwar shoppers to suburbia, but couldn't compete with supermarkets and fast foods. When the Isaly family sold the company in 1972, outside investors increasingly saw the Klondike as more profitable than its labor-intensive stores. A few stores remain, but the bar has been produced by conglomerate Unilever since 1993.
 
"The Isaly name is no longer on Klondikes," says Butko, "but the foil wrapper is a wonderful holdover from the days of hand-wrapping. While most products now are wrapped in plastic, the foil is a nice nod to Isaly's reputation for quality."
 
Locals can still buy many Isaly's products, including ice cream, chipped ham, barbecue sauce, and swiss cheese. "It's no longer made at an Isaly's plant," says Butko, "but the products are based on the old recipes. in fact, Rainbow ice cream is being re-released this year." The products are available at Isaly's delis and at many supermarkets and convenience stores.
 
Klondikes, Chipped Ham, and Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's, published by Stackpole Books, is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
 
An accompanying exhibit at the Pittsburgh Regional History Center recounts the company and Klondike's evolution.
 
Butko has also written about the Lincoln Highway and diners. You can learn more about his three books, all published by Stackpole, at http://www.brianbutko.com
 
###

PRESS RELEASE 3 - 1,400 word author interview
 
KLONDIKE ICE CREAM BOOK AUTHOR RECALLS HOW BAR GOT ITS START
 
The Klondike ice cream bar made an amazing rise in the 1980s to become America's best-selling ice cream novelty. First there was the "What Would You Do...?" jingle. Then the Famous Mouths commercials in which the camera pulled back from a mouth to reveal a celebrity spokesperson, Vanna White among them.
 
But the company that invented the Klondike, Isaly's [EYEZ-leez], had been making the bar for 60 years. More amazing, the company was much better known, albeit regionally, for its 400 pristine dairy stores.
 
Brian Butko, author of books on diners and the transcontinental Lincoln Highway, spent nine years researching Isaly's before recently publishing Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's with Stackpole Books. Here he answers some commonly asked questions.
 
Q: Nine years is a long time to research a company. What was so important about this one?
 
BUTKO: Isaly's story perfectly captures the trends of the past century. William Isaly began 100 years ago by selling his milk door-to-door; today's Klondike is owned by a huge corporation, made in factories, and marketed and sold nationally. More importantly, the Isaly family were special people. My favorite quote is by Henry Isaly: "Let's give the profits to the customers, not the stockholders."
 
Q: But there are lots of companies that succeeded through customer service....
 
BUTKO: Yes, but very few of today's companies can trace their lineage back a full century, plus Isaly's also changed markedly in that time. From the first milk route grew 11 dairy plants serving 400 dairy stores, mostly in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The stores were extremely popular and are still fondly remembered. The Klondike was just a small part of that, and in fact, Isaly's chipped ham and Skyscraper cones were much better known.
 
Q: What are those?
 
BUTKO: Chipped ham refers to the way pressed or chopped ham is sliced: razor-thin, which helps bring out the flavor. Skyscraper cones were made with a special long scoop which actually "cut" the ice cream out of the can. It was the same amount as a round-top cone, but it was so tall, it looked like you were getting a lot more.
 
The Klondike can be traced back to a 1922 news story which said it came in six flavors. Two of the most interesting are grape and maple! Klondikes were on a stick like its competitor, the Good Humor bar. Novelties were the rage then, mostly inspired by the Eskimo Pie.
 
Q: Four hundred stores is a lot. What accounted for the company's rapid rise?
 
BUTKO: Isaly's concentrated on low prices and high-turnover merchandise, all on a cash basis. The Isaly family then plowed the profits back into expansion and the most modern equipment. This built tremendous goodwill among both suppliers and customers.
 
They could have grown even quicker, as every town in the region wanted an Isaly's by then, but the Isalys were conservative. Samuel Isaly said things like, "We won't put ourselves in a position where we are so widespread that we can't know exactly what is going on in all our stores at all times."
 
Q: How did the employees feel about the company?
 
Workers were held to high standards. Most companies don't push their workers to excel for fear of rebellion, but Isaly's realized how a drive for excellence instilled pride in the workers. Former employees regularly attribute their success in life to the values learned at Isaly's.
 
Q: With so many stores, they probably knew they could grow with the company....
 
BUTKO: Isaly's always promoted from within. For a long time they even used numbered badges, where a worker aimed for badge number one - store manager. From there, you entered regional management. But it was a friendly competition, because workers knew the next opportunity might be theirs.
 
Q: Was Isaly's simply in the right place at the right time?
 
BUTKO: No, there was an awful lot of work behind their "luck." Their whole system of owning the plants and the stores was unique to the dairy industry. The emphasis on value made customers return. And really, the Isaly family systemetized everything.
 
Stores, for example, were laid out logically. Up front were the dairy and deli products - typically the slowest moving - but many impulse buys were made by customers heading to the ice cream counter in the middle. The cafeteria was at the back so there was no through traffic. The store was a study in efficiency long before McDonald's brought order to the restaurant business.
 
Q: So why do we have McDonald's in every town instead of Isaly's?
 
BUTKO: The company was swept by the trends of the 20th century, so just as the thrift of the Depression bouyed the company's fortunes, the postwar boom found it struggling to compete. By 1960, Isaly's ideas and infrastructure were getting old. The company was building in suburban strip malls, but by then, customers wanted drive-in restaurants and supermarkets.
 
Q: It sounds like they could have become the first mini-mart chain....
 
BUTKO: That's right, but by the 1960s, the company was being run by the third generation of Isalys. Not only were they different people with different visions, but where there had been one founder with four sons, now there were four times that many cousins involved. And that's just the immediate family.
 
Different ideas were tried, one being a restaurant chain called Sweet William. They were on the cutting edge of family sit-down restaurants. But it was hard to let go of the stores that that had worked for so long, and it's only easy now to look back and second guess.
 
Q: What did the family do?
 
BUTKO: After years of disagreements, the family sold to an investor group in 1972. With the stores and factories looking shabby, the Klondike seemed a natural course to outsiders: one factory can make thousands of bars for grocery chains a lot cheaper than selling them though stores with the high overhead of labor, rent, and inventory.
 
Q: So the Klondike went national then?
 
BUTKO: It wasn't until the Clabir Corporation purchased the company in 1977 that expansion began. First it was just to Philadelphia, then the east coast. After success in Florida, the bar swept the country in the 1980s, mostly by using food brokers who get products into supermarkets. Instead of fighting the competition - supermarkets - Isaly's joined them.
 
Q: At the expense of its own stores....
 
BUTKO: Right. Perhaps the hardest part for locals was the closing of Isaly's stores. The stores were losing a lot of money by then, plus as the steel industry suffered in the 1970s and '80s, so did Isaly's.
 
Q: So the stores have all closed?
 
BUTKO: No, the plan wasn't to close them all, just the unprofitable ones. They were eventually sold off so that there are now two companies: one making Klondikes and one licensing stores. About 10 stores remain, though only a few look like the beloved old ones.
 
The "stores" company has also heeded the call of supermarkets and now markets chipped ham, barbecue sauce, cheese, ice cream, and other products with the Isaly's name, though the Isaly's plants closed long ago.
 
Q: What about the Klondike company?
 
BUTKO: The Isaly's name came off the Klondike 10 years ago when Unilever purchased the company. Unilever is one of the world's largest consumer products companies, and had already owned Sealtest. Since then, it bought Good Humor, Breyers, and most recently, Ben & Jerry's.
 
Q: Klondike is a best seller?
 
BUTKO: Klondike is America's best selling ice cream novelty because it's made in so many forms now - about a dozen flavors, plus cones and sandwiches. And I think the foil wrapper - a holdover from when bars were wrapped by hand - conveys distinctiveness in a crowded field.
 
Q: So Klondike's history plays an important part in its marketing?
 
BUTKO: Maybe not consciously, but yes, the brand always strove to be the best. The old store workers still have a reverence for the family and company. One last story about Henry Isaly can explain why - during a strike at the dairy plant, Henry went out to the picket line and invited the workers inside. "Go ahead and take anything perishable," he told them. "We may be on different sides, but this thing will be settled someday. Keep an eye on my building, it's still your home and always will be." That's both smart and prudent, and that sums up Isaly's.
Klondikes, Chipped Ham, and Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's, published by Stackpole Books, is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
 
An accompanying exhibit at the Pittsburgh Regional History Center recounts the company and Klondike's evolution.
 
Butko has also written about the Lincoln Highway and diners. You can learn more about his three books, all published by Stackpole, at http://www.brianbutko.com
 
###

PRESS RELEASE 4

15 FACTS ABOUT ISALY'S AND KLONDIKE
 
From Klondikes, Chipped Ham, and Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's by Brian Butko (Stackpole Books, 2001)
 
1) Isaly's was named for the Isaly [EYEZ-lee] family, who came to America from Switzerland in 1833 and settled in Ohio.
 
2) William Isaly, a grandson of the Isaly immigrants, sold milk from a wagon. In 1902, he and some partners bought a milk plant and several routes in Mansfield, Ohio, to form what would become the first Isaly dairy company.
 
3) Major plants followed in Marion, Youngstown, Columbus, and Pittsburgh, Pa. In all, the company operated 11 plants.
 
4) William was distressed by the poor treatment of his products by retailers, so he hit upon opening his own stores. The savings were rolled back into new equipment and expanding the company.
 
5) The Klondike bar was first mentioned in a 1922 article that listed six flavors being sold in Youngstown, including maple and grape. Other ice cream novelites popular at the time were Eskimo Pie and Good Humor.
 
6) Isaly's was just as well known for its tall Skyscraper cones, thin-sliced chipped ham, Whitehouse ice cream (cherries in vanilla), and Chocolate Bubble ice cream (chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and pecans between layers of vanilla).
 
7) At its peak about 1950, Isaly's operated 400 dairy stores, the largest such chain in the world.
 
8) Isaly's declined as customers turned to suburban supermarkets and drive-in restaurants. In 1967, Isaly's operations were consolidated in Pittsburgh; along with other products, the "Boulevard" plant was making 11 million Klondikes a year.
 
9) The Isaly family sold the chain in 1972 to an invesment group. It was sold again in 1977. With the stores losing money, the Klondike bar was seen as a product that could be expanded with far less investment in labor and real estate.
 
10) Klondike's first expansion beyond Ohio and western Pennsylvania was to Philadelphia. With success there, it spread along the east coast, and Klondike production was moved to a plant in Hanover, Pa.
 
11) With Klondike expanding through the south and midwest, a second plant was built in Clearwater, Fla., in 1982. Food brokers were employed to get the bar into new areas.
 
12) in 1984, Klondike became the first ice cream brand to have a multi-million dollar national TV campaign with the jingle, "What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?"
 
13) Isaly's stores and product line were sold to a separate company. A few stores remain, and Isaly's ice cream, chipped ham, barbecue sauce, cheese, and other deli products are still licensed and sold in regional supermarkets.
 
14) The Isaly Klondike company was purchased in 1993 by Unilever, a global conglomerate that specializes in food and personal products.
 
15) During 2000, Klondike retail sales hit $165 million, or about 270 million bars. Even stacked flat, that many Klondikes would reach more than 4,200 miles high.
 
Klondikes, Chipped Ham, and Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's, published by Stackpole Books, is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
 
An accompanying exhibit at the Pittsburgh Regional History Center recounts the company and Klondike's evolution.
 
Butko has also written about the Lincoln Highway and diners. You can learn more about his three books, all published by Stackpole, at http://www.brianbutko.com
 
###

 
NOTE: Isaly's® and Klondike® are registered trademarks of Good Humor-Breyer's Ice Cream, Green Bay, Wisconsin. This site is not associated with the company, nor does it make any claim to represent the company or its interests.
NOTE: The statistic of Klondike being America's best-selling ice cream novelty is from ACNielson ScanTrack year-to-date ending 12/30/00: "The Klondike Original bar is the number one dollar sales item in the novelty category."
NOTE: If you reproduce any images or information from this page or the book book referenced on this page, in part or in whole, please credit the book, Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's by Brian Butko. For more information, contact the publisher, Stackpole Books, at (800) 732-3669.
 

 

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