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Dining with Nancy at Central Dairy

By Nancy Giddens

State History Day – what an event! History day activities were a significant undertaking during my middle school years at East Buchanan C-1. Because of my seventh grade history day presentation, I know that Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood overcame gender obstacles to become one of the first female lawyers in the United States and the first female attorney to practice before the US Supreme Court. Because of my eighth grade history day project, I know the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair was full of “firsts” including the now beloved waffle cone. For that, this northwest Missouri girl says “thank you St. Louis.”

Heidi and Amberlee Gandy, two of Nancy’s friends, with the ice cream of their choice at Central Dairy two weeks ago. (Photo by Nancy Giddens)
Heidi and Amberlee Gandy, two of Nancy’s friends, with the ice cream of their choice at Central Dairy two weeks ago. (Photo by Nancy Giddens)

While my history days are long gone, others still are reveling in their projects and presentations and learning facts they will never forget. The 2013 State History Day was held recently in Columbia and my hometown school was well represented once again. Two of my friends, Heidi and Amberlee Gandy, journeyed to central Missouri to submit Amberlee’s project on the Declaration of Independence. I coerced them into bunking with me and in honor of history day and one of my former projects; I treated them to a Jefferson City delight – the Central Dairy waffle cone!

The Place

Central Dairy is located at 610 Madison, a mere block south of Highway 50. Dot Sappington established Central Dairy in 1920 in Columbia. He later expanded operations by opening a Jefferson City branch in 1932. Products were produced in Columbia and delivered to Jefferson City for resale until Dot built a new dairy building in JC and installed the now-famous ice cream counter in front of it. Decades later, Central Dairy remains a hot spot for visitors and locals alike. It consistently has long lines streaming outside its doors. It certainly is a must for my out-of-town-guests. Though, get there before its doors close at 6:00.

The People

Central Dairy is prepared for its large crowd that only grows throughout summer. Several individuals staff the counter, making the wait incredibly short given the line length. Grace is my gal! She always is so helpful when I order my standard banana milkshake made with vanilla yogurt. I hope my trainer doesn’t read this as she may not approve of me having a standard order and staffer at an ice cream parlor. Oh well, Grace is worth it and she makes a mean shake!

Nancy Giddens
Nancy Giddens

The Product 

“Fresh as a Missouri morning” is the motto of Central Dairy. They don’t lie. The products they deliver are delicious. Whether it is a waffle cone for the Gandy girls, a shake for me, or a banana split for someone else, the product never disappoints. Prior to my shake addiction, I used to frequent Central Dairy for diet cokes. They, too, are delicious. I’m still waiting to try the hot dog…maybe next time.

The Price

No pennies needed here. Central Dairy prices its goods with tax in mind and totals are amounts payable in dollars and quarters. From $2.00 – $6.50, you’ll get something fantastic and will not leave disappointed or hungry. Flavors and more may be accessed via the following link:

The Pizzazz

History. History is important – historical events, places and people. Central Dairy is a throwback to 1950s Jefferson City. With its red and white tiled floor to its old-school wooden benches, the parlor delivers a historical feel for its guests. While it might not have invented the waffle cone, it certainly delivers its fair share with pride. Thanks to the Gandy’s for joining my history day memories!