Chow Town

Kansas City ice cream shop turns taste of childhood into a popular treat

Cereal Milk Ice Cream is a nostalgic treat now available at Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in Waldo.
Cereal Milk Ice Cream is a nostalgic treat now available at Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in Waldo.

People are totally flipping over Cereal Milk — Betty Rae’s newest ice cream flavor released last week.

What the heck?

If you’ve ever stared down at the sugary sweet milk puddle left at the bottom of your bowl post Saturday morning cartoon watching, you know what I’m talking about.

My dad told my brother and me not to waste it so we drank it straight from the bowl. But when David Friesen was growing up, his parents banned sugary cereals as he watched “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” in his PJs.

Friesen, Betty Rae’s owner, is staring like a wild-eyed child at 2-pound bags of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, and the marshmallows sans cereal bits from those magically delicious Lucky Charms.

“Though I hadn’t actually tasted cereal milk,” Friesen says, “I knew what I wanted it to taste like in my head.”

To make the ice cream, Fruity Pebbles are steeped in milk to create a base because “they’re the strongest tasting cereal.” Then Friesen makes a malt syrup to coat cereal clusters, which are baked in the oven, and swirled throughout.

Cereal milk is not necessarily new — about half of Betty Rae’s customers have heard of The Milk Bar — but Friesen notes “The Milk Bar thing seems like such a long time ago” — and he’s never seen anything like it in Kansas City.

He’s referring to pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofoku Milk Bar, who started steeping cereal in milk for a variety of desserts at the New York City bakery back in 2011. Her recipe has been widely available, and earlier this year Ben & Jerry’s cashed in on the craze with Cereal Splashback, ice cream flavors based on the rainbow of flavors found in the supermarket cereal aisle.

“Cereal Milk is kind of one of the prettier ice creams in the case,” says Friesen, who put it in Betty Rae’s lineup early last week and has already declared it so popular it will be available year-round at the ice cream shop, 7140 Wornall Road.

Why so popular?

“It’s a flavor that calls to mind memories,” Friesen says.

Yup, I’ll vouch for that.

To reach The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor Jill Silva: 816-234-4395, @kcstarfood