CGP Community Stories

Mohamed and Geraldine Allie, February 5, 2016

Title

Mohamed and Geraldine Allie, February 5, 2016

Subject

Moxie's Ice Cream Shop
Wynantskill, NY
Ice Cream

Description

Geraldine Allie and Mohamed “Moxie” Allie Jr. purchased Wagar Brothers’ Dairy in 1969 and opened Moxie’s Ice Cream Shop in Wynantskill, New York. Using an ammonia refrigeration system, the Allies have been making and selling unique ice cream flavors for nearly 50 years. The ice cream shop serves intergenerational customers from around the Troy area and beyond.

Creator

Kate Webber

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2016-2-05

Rights

Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
26.8 mB
audio/mpeg
27/5 mB
audio/mpeg
25 mB
image/jpeg
856 kB
image/jpeg
946 kB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

16-016

Coverage

Upstate New York
Poestenkill, NY

Interviewer

Kate Webber

Interviewee

Geraldine and Mohamed Allie

Location

Poestenkill, NY

Transcription

Summary of interview with time stamps

MA = Mohamed Allie Jr.
GA = Geraldine Allie
KW = Kate Webber

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]
Introductions with names, where Geraldine and Moxie grew up, how they met.

[2:19]

GA: “It was probably about seven years later [after moving to Poestenkill] when we decided to start the ice cream place. At the time Moxie was a cook and he’d worked in different restaurants and the Lord really blessed him with great taste buds. He could make boiled water taste good. And so he’s been very successful at making ice cream because he is so sensitive to the tastes.”

[3:02]

How Moxie started making ice cream. He backs up to talk about different food he prepared for fairs and parades. They discuss different gimmicks for the parade floats and have a friendly disagreement over which mottos went with which idea.

[6:30]

MA: “I just like to serve people, that’s all. And it’s just the excitement of being with people, doing things for people…What we try to do down at the ice cream place is serve people so they feel at home. Regardless of what age they are or anything else, we serve them. Our theory at the ice cream place is...regardless of what the circumstance, when you come to the counter you are a customer. You get treated…like anybody else.

[7:48]

Transition from Wagar Brother’s dairy to Moxie’s—Moxie and Geraldine rented Wagar’s for a couple of years before buying it and ran Moxie’s in the summer months. They ran a restaurant as well until there was a fire—they didn’t reopen the restaurant.

[9:20]
Value of providing jobs for high school kids.

[9:45]

Timeline:
1967-68 rented the building
1969 bought building
1971—town of Brunswick and Mr. Pinney [Ben Pinney, who sold them Wagar Brothers’ Dairy] said they could put the restaurant in (window service, burgers, corn, fish fry)

Beginnings of ice cream business, learning how to make and serve ice cream the hard way.

[13:19]

GA: The very first day we opened, our ice cream was like a rock. You couldn’t dip [scoop] the cones. It was really a disaster, and we had customers complaining, ‘Is that all you get?’ Well it was all we could shovel on it [laughing]. But that’s something we learned fast—how to adjust our cabinets.”

Moxie went to Penn State University to learn how to make sherbets in an ice cream course. “Out of about 70 of us there was only about 12 of us that had taste flavors—flavors that could taste ice cream.”

[14:24]

MA: “Each one of us are set up with different kinds of taste buds. Some people have taste buds that can recognize different flavors, and how to put flavors together, and other people can’t. It’s as simple as that.”

[16:00]

Dominating flavors, creation of signature flavors for different places (one for a sports team, one for a restaurant, Dutch Riverboat Cruise line).

Decisions that go into flavor creation—some cost more than others, look different, etc.

[20:54]

What goes into ice cream—butter fat, concentrate, puree, fruit, citric acid. Visual and flavor choices.

[22:52]

Ingredients, where products come from. Different kinds of vanilla. Flavor popularity in different regions.

[27:16]

MA: “Our signature flavor is Blue Moon. It’s blue in color—it’s a smurf blue… what’s unique about it is it tastes different to everybody.”

[28:22]

Two new flavors a year—distinctive ones: sweet potato, mayonnaise, green apple, cranberry, teaberry.

[29:50]

Uniforms for employees.

[30:49]

Advertising in local paper on weekly basis. Special days (hot fudge day, strawberry fudge day, cookie day, etc.) Past promotions (punch card).

Hot flavors (spicy).

Wooden nickels tossed out at floats in parade.

[33:00]

Moxie’s slogan: “Rain or shine, open all the time.” Geraldine explains how this was chosen. The restaurant location’s slogan was “We’re on the hill, but we’re on the level.”

[34:03]

Ice cream mixes, their sources. Mix is the cream with sugar added to it. It’s a base for the ice cream.

[36:37]

Equipment:

Soda fountain—made in 1909 in Indiana—used by Jerry Lewis. They don’t use it, but he made in cream in it. Bought from old pharmacy.

Ammonia system for making ice cream—ammonia freezer and machine for making ice cream. 28 degrees below ice cream, faster than it would be made in refrigerants. Use metal cans and convection to pull air. Moxie has rebuilt the freezer and machine since no one in the area makes ammonia equipment anymore.

Details of the ice cream making process.

[42:30]

Process of making several flavors in a row—which flavors you do in which order without washing the equipment in between (certain flavors dominate others).

[44:15]

Different ways of selling ice cream: Dixie cups, ice cream pie (didn’t work because bigger companies would pay people to destroy the product in stores, eliminate competition), home deliveries (on Ding a Ling [sp?] cars—stopped because his trucks had run over a couple of kids, law passed that you can only sell off the road on private property), tofu product. Moxie’s product was called “tofunutee” [sp?] that sold in many locations, didn’t have the aftertaste that other products had.

[51:58]

Ben Pinney (former owner of Wagar’s) and wife. There were Wagers (with “er” spelling) who sold ice cream in Troy. Wagars with an “ar” were the ones Moxie bought out, they had a farm across the street. They made ice cream with surplus milk. Ben Pinney married a Wagar girl and ran the dairy until the 1950s, when he started to rent it out.

[56:20]

Moxie as a public persona—is it difficult to keep the public face?
MA: “Regardless of what—your attitude has to change if you’re going to go meet the public or run the restaurant. It’s, “Okay, this is what I’m doing, this is where I am. All my other problems have to stop. I have to take care of the customer, he’s number one. He’s the one that pays the bills…Although lots of days you don’t feel good because things don’t go right [laughing] and believe me, lots of things break.”

[57:56]

Challenging times at the beginning. Moxie and Geraldine had to sell their two cows to open the ice cream place. Scary decision to make, that was what they had for the year and they risked it to open the business.

Another challenge—when it was Wagar’s, they made the ice cream from their surplus product so they had very reasonable prices. Moxie’s had to buy the mix so they had to raise prices.

[1:00:00]

GA: “[Laughing] I remember one particular little old lady, she really was lacing me out in lavender about the prices. And I said, ‘Well you know, you don’t buy a loaf of bread for fifteen cents anymore neither [laughing]. That did not satisfy her, she didn’t want to pay that kind of a price.”

Old man refuses to pay sales tax on food “hot dog tax.”

Reopening after the fire—many people thought it was closed, so they had to fight their way back up again.

[1:02:25]

Building reputation over time.

GA: “We’ve never compromised when making our ice cream. We’ve always made an excellent quality product. And people appreciate that, and know. We do have a reputation in the capitol district that Moxie’s makes very good ice cream, and if you want to impress somebody, or you’ve got a special friend that you want to do something with, Moxie’s is the place you bring them…We’ve got customers that come—and they’ll be three generations, there’ll be the grandmother, the mother, and the child. And they’ve been coming ever since the grandmother was a girl. So we’ve got people hooked [laughter, Moxie shouts]. And I think too both of us are very outgoing so we talk with people and we joke with them and all that, and people like that. And we’ve always been polite, we’ve always thanked them…And people appreciated being appreciated.”

[1:04:20]

What makes Moxie’s special? Have a playground, out in country, no parking problems. Became a destination over the years. Good place to take families—pay for an ice cream, but stay for a while to play. National ice cream day.

[1:06:55]

Reaching out to the community—school trips, donating to different events.

[1:09:35]

Family legacy—raising children and working. Two daughters, Pamela and Wanda (also a younger son she talks about later).

Girls used to sneak up front and watch parents work.

[1:10:40]

GA: “When we first opened they used to bug us, ‘Can we have ice cream? Can we have ice cream?’ So I finally said to Moxie, ‘Let’s let them eat as much as they want, in a couple of weeks they’ll get tired of it and we won’t have that problem.’ Well, here we are almost fifty years later and we eat as much ice cream as we did the first season we were open [laughing]. Good ice cream is good ice cream.”

Both girls worked there from a young age. Good workers, both enjoyed it. Son Thomas hated it, said “It sucks the life out of me.”

Children (in order of age) Pamela, Wanda, Thomas. Thomas 11 years younger than Wanda, maybe that’s why he didn’t like working (had to do it alone).

Talking about skills it taught daughters, how you have to like serving people to work there.

[1:15:15]

Another nice part of running business—people that worked there leave and come back, hearing what they’ve made of their lives (some now own their own businesses). One girl he fired, she came back to thank him for straightening her out.

[1:17:15]

Moxie’s Natural Spring Water—from here until end of interview, Moxie describes how he came to open a water company.

Duration

29:15 - Track 1
30:00 - Track 2
27:15 - Track 3

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Time Summary

Track 1 02:19 - Starting Moxie's Ice Cream
Track 1 07:48 - Renting from Wagar Brothers' Dairy
Track 1 16:00 - Flavor Creation
Track 2 06:30 - Ice Cream Equipment
Track 2 27:50 - Challenges of Business
Track 3 1:02 - Reputation

Files

Citation

Kate Webber, “Mohamed and Geraldine Allie, February 5, 2016,” CGP Community Stories, accessed November 17, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/253.