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The History of the Wendy’s Frosty

In 1965, Dave Thomas called Fred Kappus because he was searching for a frozen dairy treat to put on the menu at his new hamburger restaurant on Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio. He thought that since Kappus distributed ice cream machines through his family business, Kappus Company, he might have a recipe idea. He did! Kappus came up with the Frosty, which was inspired by the frosted malts that a Cleveland racetrack called Thistledown offered at the time. (Kappus’ company supplied the machines and the treats were mixed by a man named Herman Weistner.) A sign at the track read: “Secret Formula, Frosted Malted” but it was known that the treats were made by mixing vanilla into chocolate. Kappus and his staff presented the existing treat to Dave Thomas, who loved it, and when the first Wendy’s restaurants launched in Columbus, Ohio, they served a unique version of the treat inspired by the Thistledown treat — known today as the Frosty. Chocolate was the first flavor offered and like all Frosty flavors today, it was made using a secret formula. In those early days, the team purchased ice cream from a popular soft-serve dairy in the area, but as the chain expanded, the supply chain needed to grow as well. Thomas began working with a mix specialist from Qualcon named Tom Kullman who had previously developed recipes for Dairy Queen. Thomas had him create a repeatable, centralized Frosty recipe for all Wendy’s locations to use. And indeed, as Wendy’s expanded, so did the popularity of the chain’s signature treat — the Frosty. Today, it is available in several flavors, including the original Chocolate as well as Vanilla, Strawberry, Peppermint, Pumpkin Spice, and Orange Dreamsicle, although these flavors are not usually all available at the same time at the same locations. Kappus Company still supplies Frosty machines to Wendy’s restaurants and the Frosty itself is considered one of the most beloved and iconic fast-food offerings in America today.

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