SKOWHEGAN, Maine — Local company Gifford’s Ice Cream announced Monday it was acquiring Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy.
The Skowhegan company has bought Gifford’s Ice Cream and Candy, a Maryland-based company that distributes in that state as well as in Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.
The two companies were heretofore unrelated.
“It’s uncanny that two companies, separated by hundreds of miles, have similar stories and even the same family name,” said Roger Gifford, co-owner of the Maine Giffords, in a release. “We understand and value John Gifford’s legacy, and are committed to restoring that legacy that so many ice cream lovers remember. His family has shared original, hand-written ice cream recipes, and we’ll treat them with the respect they deserve.”
John Gifford founded the Maryland company in 1938. To make the story a bit more confusing, Roger Gifford co-owns the Maine company with his brother who is also named — you guessed it — John Gifford.
According to the public relations firm working with the Maine company, the two Gifford’s businesses became aware of each other as they would get calls meant for the other company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed Monday.
Both companies are storied in their own regions.
In the case of the Maine company, Roger and John Gifford grew up in the family dairy business and started making batches of ice cream in 1980 using recipes passed down through generations. In 1983, they began working on ice cream full time, according to the release. Lindsay Gifford-Skilling, John Gifford’s daughter, is the next generation of Giffords to lead the company, as vice president of sales.
(Sharp readers will note that 1983 is a numerical anagram of 1938 — another fateful twist!)
According to the release, the other John Gifford started Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy in 1938, when he opened an ice cream shop in Silver Spring, Md.
“Other stores followed, and for nearly 75 years, ice cream fans across the region — including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and future movie star Goldie Hawn — enjoyed the area’s best ice cream at Gifford’s of Maryland,” the release said.
The Maryland company no longer operates stand-alone ice cream stores but distributes to a number of businesses in the region.
Neal Lieberman, one of the current owners of Gifford’s of Maryland, will help represent Gifford’s of Maine in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.