1902- 1937 Stow MA. Eriksons Dairy was started by Hans Erikson Sr.
sometime around the year 1902. The Eriksen farm known as Hill Side Farm
was located on the corner of Hastings Street and White Pond Road in Stow.
There were many apple trees along with the usual gardening. Logging was
done in the woods now known as the town woods. Cows and chickens were kept on
the farm. This is were Hans Eriksen Sr. started the dairy
business. Cows often roamed on what is now called Assabet
Heights. Assebet St. off of Great Rd. now leads to many homes that have
been built there. Milk was delivered by horse and wagon. The milk
was poured from large cans into customer owned small containers at the
Hans H.A. Erikson, founder of the present
Erikson’s Dairy helped with chores on the farm with his two sisters until
entering the army for World War I. After returning from France, he
attended Wentworth Institute in Boston for law and at the same time helped on
At sometime between 1918 and 1923, the farm was sold
and the Erikson’s moved to a new house (what is now 11 Great Road.,
Stow). The barn at the old farm no longer stands. It was torn down in
2000. The dairy, which looked like six or seven single car garages all put
together in a row and connected, was located behind the new house. It
consisted of four stalls for his car and milk trucks. The milk was processed
in the middle of the building. There was a pasteurizing vat, milk cooling
machine, a bottling machine and a water tank (for cleaning bottles).
The cows had been sold and he started to purchase milk for distribution from
other farms in Stow. The milk was brought into the dairy where it was
now pasteurized and bottled before delivery. Today, the old dairy no longer
stands. The house was gutted by fire in 1984 and refurbished by the
Vincent family who now live there.
In 1923 Hans married Mary Boyd, who had come to Stow
from Magnolia to teach at Hale High School where she was assistant principle
at the time of the wedding. The newly married couple settled in one of
the homes which used to occupy the area that is now The Stow Town Hall.
In the late 1920’s land was purchased just over the Stow/Maynard line in
Maynard for a new home. Much of the land had been owned by a brewery
company. After their marriage Mary Erikson substituted in the Maynard
School System The business grew through the depression years. Many of
the local families were supplied with milk and told to pay for it when they
could afford to.
Upon retirement, Hans Eriksen Sr. sold the milk
business to his son and wife. The business continued to grow and in
1937, Mr. Erikson built a new building for Erikson’s dairy and Ice
Cream stand beside it on the present site next to his home. The
new dairy originally was suppose to be located right behind the new Maynard
house like the old dairy location behind Hans Sr.’s house but later the
decision was made to locate it in the field on the side. The field had a
mound of earth in the middle of it which had been the site for many 4th
of July firework displays for the Erikson family, neighbors and
friends. It now gives way to a parking lot. The ice cream stand
contained four ice cream cabinets and a refrigerator. Within this
time period there were many drive in, road side ice cream stands appearing
such as Howard Johnson, Dutchland Farm, Buttericks etc... because of the
advent of the family car.
Hans Erikson was determined to make and sell the best
possible quality ice cream in the area. All naturally flavored products and
fruits were purchased from H.A. Johnson Co. of Brighton Mass. the
leader in the field. Today , 70 years later, they are still our
prime vendor continuing to manufacture top of the line products. High
quality cream and ice cream mix was supplied by Buttericks of
Arlington. This was a quality product containing 18% to 20% butter fat
. The finished product resulted in a quality natural ice cream which
many say today can not be surpassed. A "Best of Boston" was
awarded in 2000. The basic recipes remain unchanged.
Often the 40 quart jugs of cream and buttermilk came out
from Buttericks to Maynard on the Lowell Bus from Arlington. The bus
drivers would switch the jugs from the Arlington bus to the Leominster bus at
the bus station on Walnut Street. The Leominster bus used to drop the
jugs off as they passed the dairy.
The war years brought many changes to the dairy as well as
to other small businesses. A side platform was added to the ice cream
stand making it possible to serve from seven windows instead of four. A
soda fountain, sundae split table and many other things were added at this
time. Gas was rationed as well as fats and sugars. The ration of
sugar was based on a year’s use preceding 1941. The business had grown
so much that the ration of sugar was not enough for the volume of
business. The ice cream stand had to close Tues.,Wed.,and Thurs., some
weeks especially during the hot summer months because of the shortages.
Specific hours were also initiated. Before this, the ice cream stand
used to stay open at night until there were no more customers or until
after the late show got out at the People’s Theater in Maynard. Ice
cream was limited to eight servings per customer and no Bulk such as quarts
and pints were sold during this period. The lines were so long and
often several members of one family would stand in line to buy their limit of
ice cream because desserts could not be made at home. The serving was a
smaller portion in weight than what we serve today but, people seemed to
think they were huge. The ice cream business continued to close on
Wednesdays each year until the 1970’s because we found it was nice to have
one day free a week.
During this time, milk home deliveries and schedules were
reduced from every day to every other day to conserve gas and allow those on
the home front to work for the war effort. This method of scheduling
deliveries proved so satisfactory that it remained until long after the war.
1945-1955 Post War
During this time of post war recovery, our small business
grew rapidly. It was a time of new homes and the beginning of roomy
freezers and refrigerators, two car families and the large supermarket.
It was the last three items that changed the business considerably.
Everyone was well employed and working hard to make up for years lost.
It was during this time both the milk and ice cream business experienced it’s
most crucial years of competition and expansion. Mr. Erikson, after two
wars and the depression, did not elect to expand and grow like many of his
competitors. He maintained the philosophy of one stand operation
providing quality and service. In 1946, the NEICRA group was founded,
made up of ice cream manufacturers and retailers. Erikson’s was one of
the charter members and have been active in the group ever since.
Hans Eriksen Sr. passed away in 1949. In the mean
time the name of his business had been changed from Eriksen's Dairy to
1961 3rd Generation
Erikson’s daughter, Arlene, who graduated from Western College in 1953 and
Prince School of Retailing at Simmon’s College joined the family
business. Arlene had worked part time for her father while in high school
and college and was well prepared for the challenges ahead. Presently,
being in the ice cream business 48 years, she is well respected through out the
ice cream industry in New England. In 1955 Arlene married Joe Fraser of Maynard,
who due to Hans Erikson’s poor health, also joined the family business to
assist his wife in the daily operation of a fast growing business. It was
at this time that the milk business became even more competitive than in the
past and equipment and processing methods required upgrading to stay
afloat. The next year, a large investment was made in capitol equipment: A.
A new ½ gallon glass bottle filler B. A new ½ gallon glass bottle washer C. A
new filling machine for paper ½ gallons and quarts D. Upgrade of milk delivery
trucks E. Increase of storage space for greater volume
changes in equipment put us back in the milk business ready to compete with
anyone. We did well for the next year.
1961- 1979 Incorporated In 1961 Hans Erikson Jr. and his wife
retired and sold both the milk business and the ice cream business to Joe and
Arlene Fraser. A corporation was formed. the business was now
Erikson’s Dairy Inc. with Joseph Fraser as President and Arlene Fraser as Chairman
and Treasurer. Mr. Erikson stayed on as a board member and
consultant. It became necessary because of increased sales of both milk
and ice cream to expand into a bulk tank operation for pick up and storage of
the product. This required the purchase of a tank truck for pick up of
milk at the local farms and two 3000 gallon holding tanks in the plant.
This was another major change in methods of operation.
In 1963 the milk routes were sold to the United Co.
Operative Society of Maynard and a contract was made to pick up all their
local farms and process all their milk and cream. This proved very
beneficial to both for a short while. In 1964 the United Co-Op
discontinued deliveries because of the costs of the operation. Again
the growth of the large super market in shopping centers along with larger
home storage capacities, and a very mobile customer of milk by big super
markets changed the milk market, also. Our milk packaging agreement
came to an end. Home delivery was a thing of the past. We were
fortunate to be one of the many dairies in Central Mass to close out milk
production soon enough so that all our equipment not used in ice cream
manufacturing could be sold. Others were not as fortunate.
Early in 1965 we made the decision to concentrate all our
efforts on ice cream sales and manufacturing which was the real back bone of
our business. Ice Cream sales were increased due to the hi tech
industries that sponed rapid population growth in this area. Arlene
Fraser assumed all responsibilities as general manager and chief
financial officer at this time. Joe Fraser left an active roll
with the company to work for a major food service company because the ice
cream was only open 5 1/2 months of the year and the three boys were at the
start of many years of school tuition. John Fraser of Concord, a ten
year employee and of no relation, assumed the responsibility as plant manager
and ice cream maker. At this time another major decision was made to
manufacture our own ice cream mix.
Hans H.A. Erikson, Jr. passed away in 1971.
1979 - 1987 4th
Generation Arlene and Joe continued for 18 years to manufacture and
retail ice cream. The three Fraser boys began to help out in the
business in various different jobs as they became old enough to do so.
In 1979 after John Fraser retired, Arlene’s husband, Joe, gave up corporate
life and returned to Erikson’s Dairy Inc. to assist Arlene with the operation
of the business which had continued to grow in the eighteen year
period. To keep up with the rapid pace only a few minor modifications
in the operation were made. A. The season was extended to seven months B.
The variety of flavors were increased. C. Prepackaged ice cream in ½ gallons
were introduced D. Freezer capacity was increased E. Bulk storage for mix
was increased F. Ice Cream freezers and compressors were upgraded
A new downtown store was opened by Erikson’s Dairy
in 1979 called the H.A. Erikson Ice Cream Shoppe. It was a
satellite of our existing stand which would remain open 12 months of the
year. The new outlet proved to be a learning experience even with our
many years of expertise in the field. Again, because of our reputation
and quality we were able to build a lucrative business at a new
location. We did not realize it would demand so much of our time.
We found it difficult to operate both the store and the stand during our peak
season. At the same time, unknowingly, Joe was headed for a lone siege
in the hospital plus a long recovery period. The decision to sell the
location but not the name was made so we could concentrate on our Great Rd
stand. The success of any business depends on the customer and the repeat
satisfied customer. Over the past 70 years three and four generations
have visited our stand and proved their satisfaction. Some return every
day and others stop in every year on a visit home sometime from as far away
as California or Florida. To these loyal customers we say- THANK
YOU. We count Secretary of States, Governors and Corporate Heads among our
customers. George Shultz, Secretary of State under Reagan, was not only
a milk customer when he lived on Red Acre Rd. in Stow but, also an avid ice
cream eater. The Herter family were also milk customers and ice cream
customers. Herter was governor of Massachusetts and Secretary of
State under Eisenhower. Tom Samon, Governor of Vermont, was not only an
ice cream customer but also the brother in law to one of our ice cream
scoopers. The John Mars family, originators of the M&M and owners
of the country’s largest family owned corporation have been our guests.
T.V. personalities are often at our windows: Bob Lobel and his
ex-wife Susan Warnick of Sudbury Channel 4 sports commentator and channel 5
news, David Roebick of Concord Channel 5 news, Bob Copeland and many more
that we probably do not recognize. TV crews and commentators stopped in
each day after interviewing the Browns in Stow about the hostage
situation. One of our scoopers became real excited when he
realized he had just waited on Doug Fluties’ father. Next in importance to
our customers, come our past employees. Over the 70 year period of
operation we have had approximately 2000 high school and college students,
boys and girls from Maynard and the surrounding towns. Our past alumni
include doctors, lawyers, mothers, corporate vice presidents, air line
pilots, sports commentators and many more. Often they come back to
visit us, taking is never the answer to the success of a small business,
not only to give when you have been asked but to continue to support from
year to year the right cause. Over the past 61 years from the time of
Mr. Erikson to the present, Erikson’s has contributed to the support of local
activities. Erikson’s has sponsored first the Pony League and then the
Assabet Little League for 35 continuous years. Support has also
been given to Churches in the community along with Youth Football, American
Legion Baseball, Booster Club and many other organizations and functions too
numerous to name.
Future- Entering the new Millennium The future of
Erikson’s Dairy continues to improve. We are determined to continue
producing a high quality product made from the finest available natural
ingredients at the lowest possible cost. We are blessed with three
sons, Scott, Thomas and Robert who are engineers, but who all have worked in
the business at various levels. They are capable of continuing for another 70
years with our quality, old fashioned, home made product. New modern
flavors have been added such as cookie dough and oreo cookie. No sugar
lo carb and yogurt are now on the menu.
Irene, Thomas’ wife now manages the ice cream stand. The
grandchildren have worked as ice cream scoopers.
In 1997 a food license was obtained. Hot dogs were
added for traveling customers looking for something to eat.
History Article written by Joseph A. Fraser before passing
away in the fall of 1999. Modified and maintained by Arlene B. Fraser
The New Millennium
Two of boy's, Robert and Thomas, are still very
active in the business. They maintain their engineering jobs along with
making all the ice cream. Irene manages the ice cream
stand. Arlene is now president and oversees the business. There are now
currently two grandchildren working at the business.
A soft serve machine was purchased in 2007 along with
machines for smoothies, whipped cream and ice coffees. Several new items
added to our menu.