Ice cream is one of the few acceptable “vices” that students have indulged in for decades, with a number of shops selling the frozen treats near BYU — much like clubs cater to students around most other college campuses.
The BYU Creamery has been serving ice cream since 1949 when its first location opened on 900 East. Joe Tiapson, the assistant director of BYU Dining Services, said the competition a new ice cream shop is bringing to the location is great for the industry.
“Each player knows they have to keep up with the ever-changing demands and trends of their customers,” Tiapson said. “We always welcome friendly competition and we are always looking for ways to improve our product for our guests.”
The newest player seeking a piece of Provo’s lucrative cold-treat market is Brooker’s Founding Flavors Ice Cream. Brian Brooker, the man behind the new ice cream counter, said the company’s “revolutionary era” treats will be available starting April 11 at his newest location next to the J Dawgs on 820 North.
Brooker lived at The Colony as an BYU undergraduate student and remembers passing by the soon-to-be location of his ice cream shop every day as he walked to class.
“The reason that spot is good is because we have all the foot traffic of BYU,” Brooker said. “It will draw in a lot of students every time there’s sporting events, musical performances and church functions.”
His original shop opened in Vineyard in December 2018 and is modeled after a tavern that can be found in colonial Williamsburg. Everything from the light fixtures and reclaimed wood tables from 100 year-old barns to crown molds and the whiskey barrel water station invoke a sense of early Americana.
Brooker’s upbringing was heavily influenced by the Nation’s founding history. He was born in Virginia and grew up frequently visiting historical sites like Montpelier, Monticello, Mount Vernon and George Mason.
“Driving to high school, I would go through the Manassas Battlefield. I remember there was a cannonball still lodged into a stone building,” Brooker said. “That’s what I knew and grew up around, so history always inspired me.”
Brooker’s dedication to the founding principles extended far beyond having a sound understanding of the nation’s history and a love for American Heritage. After graduating from BYU with a bachelor’s in science and getting a law degree and MBA from Penn State, he decided to join the military. He served as a judge advocate general (JAG) attorney for eight years.
“I joined the military because of 9/11. I wanted to serve and give back,” Brooker said.
After his military service, Brooker combined his love for country and for ice cream to create a business. His interest for making his own ice cream was sparked after his high school graduation when he set off on a hiking trip through the Appalachian Trail, stopping in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
“Going through New England, you see all these homemade ice cream parlors,” Brooker said. “They were not cutting corners. They’re very creative, have cool flavors and are high quality.”
That experience was what set Brooker on a path to pursue a dream that was 20 years in the making. In the past decade, Brooker earnestly studied ice cream-making by taking courses at different universities around the country. In addition to taking public courses, he managed to set up private lessons with a couple of ice cream legends.
“I tracked down the guy that invented cookies and cream and made ice cream with him in his basement for three days,” Brooker said, “Now cookies and cream is one of our most popular flavors.”
At the BYU Creamery, employees have also continuously worked on creating new flavors and names for their ice cream — a collaborative effort between chefs and the management team.
“In order to be released to the public, a new flavor must have a final stamp of approval from our executive chef and dining director,” Tiapson said. “Naming a new ice cream is done through lots of brainstorming and polling to ensure we have the right name to match our quality product.”
Just like the Creamery, Brooker’s also places value in the creation and naming of ice cream flavors. Jason Redding is secretly a history junkie and went to Brooker’s on a date. The mechanical engineering major from Edison, Wash. said he loves the Revolutionary War period and enjoyed the clever names of the flavors.
“Then I actually got the ice cream and it was some of the best I’ve ever had,” Redding said. “It rivaled the stuff I get locally in western Washington.”
Redding lives in student housing right around the corner from Brooker’s new location. “I’m excited to have one so close. It will be great for quick dates, after-FHE activities or just to stop on the way home after a long day,” he said.
Anna Andrew, a communication studies major from Moab, went to Brooker’s Ice Cream shop for the first time last semester and said she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it.
“When I visited, the owner came out and gave us the inside scoop on how they make their ice cream and we tried several of their flavors,” Andrew said. “My favorite flavor is ‘Give me chocolate or give me death.’ If I could have ice cream every day, I would go there.”
Brooker said one of his catchphrases is, “A spoonful of ice cream helps the founding principles go down.”
“I’ve been studying, reading about America’s founding for many years now. With every generation that goes by, history is being told inaccurately with an agenda or even a malice towards history,” Brooker said. “I want to put back out in the American community and culture, true and positive things about what makes this place special and different.”