Friday, May 31, 2002

Oprah Winfrey just loves that Graeter's ice cream

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Endorsements don't get much bigger than this, especially when it comes to ice cream.

        During her syndicated TV show, which aired Thursday afternoon before millions of viewers, Oprah Winfrey proclaimed Cincinnati's own Graeter's ice cream her favorite.

        “This is the best ice cream I ever tasted,” the talk show queen said during the Oprah Winfrey show, which is taped in Chicago.

        Ms. Winfrey, known for her diets, then told viewers how to order Graeter's.

        Quickly, the phones began ringing at the 12 Graeter's stores in Greater Cincinnati and at the company's ice cream production plant in Mount Auburn.

        Graeter's received 36 orders within minutes of the show — the average number of mail orders for an entire business day.

        Ms. Winfrey first dipped into the ice cream during the holidays, after a friend gave her a Graeter's gift pack. Early this year, an Oprah producer called the little company to ask for another sample. Then Graeter's heard nothing for months — until last week, when a producer called Rich Graeter, executive vice president, to tell him they wanted enough vanilla ice cream to serve 300 studio audience members.

        “When (the producer) called, I was with my wife, who was in labor at the hospital,” Mr. Graeter said. “I almost blew them off.”

        His wife, Nancy, gave birth to a girl — Kate — May 22, and Mr. Graeter shipped 10 gallons of vanilla and 24 pints of other Graeter's flavors to Chicago early this week.

        After Thursday's endorsement, the Graeter family is waiting to gauge the impact. If Ms. Winfrey can sell millions of books by patting an author on the back, will viewers scramble to buy her favorite ice cream?

        The company can make only 1,000 gallons of the famous French pot ice cream a day and is limited to 500 daily mail orders.

        “I don't know,” said Dick Graeter, Rich's father and the man responsible for churning the ice cream and packing it in dry ice for shipment. “This could be scary.”


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