Isaly's

Isaly's predated McDonald's, and were very popular all over north central Ohio in the 1930s.

Long before America's love obsession with McDonald's and other fast food began, one restaurant chain dominated the Midwest and perhaps the country: Isaly's.

The grandson of Swiss dairy farmers and cheesemakers, William Isaly purchased the Mansfield Pure Milk Company in Mansfield, Ohio in the early 1900s. The Mansfield Pure Milk Company had originally processed milk for other restaurants, as well as providing a home delivery service.

William renamed it as Isaly's and decided to expand his business by opening a retail outlet for milk and ice cream, and featuring a lunch counter like many other stores at the time.

In 1914 he purchased the Marion Pure Milk Company and opened a store there as well, and again in 1918 expanded to Youngstown. More Isaly's slowly began popping up around the state for the next decade, and by the 1930s and 1940s Isaly's popularity had exploded with over 400 locations stretching from Pennsylvania to Iowa and beyond.

Not far from headquarters in Mansfield, Loudonville too received an Isaly's in the early 1930s, opening in Earl Wolf's former jewelry store.

Isaly's became an iconic brand with its art-deco white facades, simple black lettering, and checkered floors.

To help customers remember how to spell their unusual name, they used the mnemonic phrase "I Shall Always Love You Sweetheart" in their advertisements.

At a time when most dairy bars only offered a few flavors, Isaly's always carried a variety with interesting names like Whitehouse Cherry and Maricopa.

Even more exciting though, were the Skyscraper Cones they came in: towering piles of ice cream made by a patented scooper.

In 1922, Isaly's invented and debuted the Klondike Bar: a square of vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, maple, or cherry ice cream hand-dipped in chocolate and wrapped in foil by a mostly-female staff known as the "Klondike girls."

Isaly's locations were of course the only place to buy them, and with the help of their marketing slogan "What would you do for a Klondike bar?" became an instant hit.

It wasn't just ice cream that Isaly's was known for, though, as their famed chip-chopped ham sandwiches were equally popular. The key to the sandwiches, it was said, was that the ham was shaved impossibly thin: in fact, before deli-slicers were readily available, employees indeed had to shave the ham by hand.

In the 1960s, milk-delivery services were in low demand and shifting consumer demands trended towards supermarkets and fast food.

The Loudonville location closed by 1964 and most of those across the country followed suit. Though a few scattered restaurants still carry the Isaly's name, they are no longer owned by the original family. The trademark name was sold off, as was the Klondike Bar.

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