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The Vogt Instant Freezer and the MelORol.

Wondrous things happen on the world wide web and, for me, this story is one. I have written several blog posts about my inventor father, C. W. Vogt (1891-1973), and with the collaborative research of my sister, Sarah Vogt, have successfully established that he was indeed the creator of the Votator, a breakthrough process that has touched everyone’s life, a scraped surface heat exchanger used in the manufacture of margarine, lard, peanut butter, soap, automotive grease, and much more. A similar process for frozen dairy products was the Vogt Instant Freezer which he patented in 1930.

Vogt Instant Freezer 2

It is one thing to work toward making sure someone is credited for their work, it is another to write with authority about the actual production. Enter Tony Mathis, an application engineer and product manager for Vogt Freezers and the Votator, a native of Louisville who passed the Votator factory sign on his way to school as a kid.

“I have always been curious about your father, since I found very little mention of him in the files that I have. I found the 1931 picture of him in the Ekstrom Library archives, and I have seen the WWI photo in uniform on some old literature, but could not find much else on-line until stumbling across your blog yesterday.”

R S Clarence Vogt of Louisville 1934

Capt. C. W. Vogt 2

About the VIF Tony has written in an email:

“Not only was it a continuous process so the benefits of mass production could be realized, but the ice crystals were so small that they gave an exceptionally smooth and creamy mouthfeel and they resisted freezer shock (formation of large ice crystals over time) much better than any other batch-wise freezing process. The added air, referred to as the overrun percentage, could be controlled at will to make standard ice cream holding 50% air, or premium products with more butterfat and only about 30% air.

The VIF became the preferred method of making frozen desserts for all types of distribution. Besides the MelORol package, the discharged product could be filled into gallon and quart-size cartons, or into molds to make frozen bars. After the freezer, a Cherry-Burrell fruit feeder could add fruit and nut pieces into the continuous stream and a variegator could inject a ribbon of fudge, strawberry syrup, or some other liquid on the way to the carton filler. In 1956 a three-barrel Vogt freezer was introduced so that ‘Neapolitan’ chocolate-vanilla-strawberry flavors could be packed at once in the same carton.”

Tony has graciously accepted my proposal that he contribute pieces about the Vogt Instant Freezer and the Votator. This post is about the MelORol Production, and he’s collected some wonderful archival photographs for it.


By a Former Product Manager for Vogt Premier Freezers

Clarence W. Vogt perfected the Vogt Instant Freezer, the first continuous ice cream freezer, in the late 1920s. The ice cream quality produced by this equipment was unsurpassed by any older batch freezing methods. It was renowned for its creamy, smooth texture and consistent flavor and quality.

But, not content to stop there, the Vogt Instant Freezer Company also perfected a novel packaging system that eliminated waste and allowed hygienic, “untouched by human hands” distribution all the way to the point of serving. The ice cream was frozen into a continuous bar, wrapped with an easily-removed paper, and sliced into cylinders for precise portion control.

Freezer cabinet

MelOrol serving

Mello-Roll cone

This novelty became known as the MelORol, a brand owned by Bordens and produced by the creameries of their Pioneer Ice Cream Division including Abbott Dairies in Philadelphia, J. M. Horton’s and Reid’s Dairy in New York City, and Hendler’s Creamery in Baltimore. Starting about 1930 and for the next four decades, it was a favorite memory of many American and Canadian children. In the early years of the Depression you could go to a local soda fountain or snack bar and trade a Liberty or Buffalo nickel for a cup or cone of the finest ice cream in the world, produced using the Vogt Instant Freezer.

See for many personal stories involving MelORol.

MelORol spokespersons included Slim Timblin, a blackface performer, and later the Dionne Quintuplets. And of course Elsie the Cow, who appeared in the film Little Men in 1940. Interesting memorabilia include a series of MelORol trading cards featuring prominent figures from world history, and advertising buttons that were issued as part of the marketing strategy.

A MelORol packaging line started at the Vogt Instant Freezer, where ice cream mix and air were pumped into the freezer barrel and then rapidly frozen to a stiff consistency. The ice cream was extruded out of a pipe into a cylindrical bar shape. A tube former and filler wrapped the bar with two continuous pieces of paper, forming paper tabs on each side that would later serve as handles for unwrapping. The wrapped bar passed into a freezing tunnel or hardening chamber through a small hole in the insulated wall.

MelOrol Borden 1934-1

MelOrol small line 2

The bar was cut into long sections and conveyed slowly through the hardening chamber, while frigid air was blown across the surface to freeze it solid. A typical bar was 13 feet, 9 inches long.

MelOrol Borden 1934-2

At the end of the tunnel, the hardened bar was cut into sticks of 18 to 24 inches long by a traveling cutter. The sticks passed out through another hole in the wall and into a stick hopper.

MelOrol Borden 1934-3

MelOrol Borden 1934-4

The sticks were manually or automatically loaded into a slicing machine, where the final MelORol serving sizes were determined. The slicing machine could be adjusted for portion sizes of 3 to 5 ounces. MelORol lines produced between 100 and 300 gallons per hour of these tasty novelties.

melOrol Borden 1934-5

MelORol slicing

MelOrol small line 3

The MelORol slices were wrapped in hexagonal cartons called bales. These were sent to cold storage until they could be distributed.

melORol bale wrapped

MelOrol package

MelOrol Borden 1934-7

MelORol was discontinued in the 1960s in the US, and the 1970s in Canada, after refrigerators with freezers in the home became widespread. Consumers could then bring home cartons of high-quality ice cream produced on Vogt Freezers, scoop it out in just the right serving sizes, and forget any worries about other people handling their treats. It was the end of an era that had generated fond memories for so many.

Elsie and MelORol

Further reading:

“Covington, Kentucky 1913: A Family Mystery.” Click here.

“From Missiles to MelORols: Covington, KY, Mystery Update.” Click here.

“Clarence Vogt, Prolific Inventor from Louisville.” Click here.

“Ice Cream by the Mile.” Click here.

“My Grandfather’s Clock Face.” Click here.

19 comments to The Vogt Instant Freezer and the MelORol.

  • Sarah Vogt

    Hi Tico – More later – Right now I must say Thanks so much to Tony Mathis for this great explanation, the fantastic photographs, and the thoughtfulness to contact Tico, much less research this article. And Thanks so much to you too Tico!

  • Tico,

    This is amazing stuff and you look amazingly similar to the picture of him in uniform,


  • Very cool 🙂 Had some of those ice cream treats as a kid (oops, im dating myself 🙂
    Interesting story, its a small world isn’t it?

  • tico

    I remember for my early birthdays a version that had chocolate cake rolled in with the vanilla ice cream which my mother would cut into small servings. The connection between the product and my father was never made clear to me, can you imagine?

  • This is such fascinating stuff, I haven’t seen an image of Elsie the Cow in probably 55 years!
    The Hudson Valley and Northwest CT. were full of farms shipping their milk down to the Borden NJ plants by rail. There were 2 sisters who wrote a wonderful small book about the dairy farms around the Copake, NY. region, and we still have some Borden family members here in NW CT.
    Oddly enough, I’ve been doing some projects for the heir to the Klondike Bar company here in Salisbury, CT. I’m sure that their processes are a result of the Vogt inventions.
    The design of the Meloroll is so fascinating, it looks like a Raymond Lowe!

  • tico

    The Vogt Instant Freezer might have been the technology for the ice cream manufacture of the Klondike as it was the continuous freezer process industry wide for decades. That’s a question I’ll pose to Tony Mathis.

    Do you mean Raymond Loewy? I’m looking at his stuff now on Google.

  • Fairly obviously these tasty fancies didn’t make it to the UK. But I do have a vague childhood recall of small rolls of ice cream in paper – but it may be from imported American TV.

    My wife, Jane, recently picked up a book on the history of ice cream – going back to Roman history and beyond, written by Elizabeth David (her last book), the respected English food writer. It’s called “Harvest of the Cold Months: The Social History of Ice and Ices” Available here: Describes the old processes of gathering ice and snow in Winter for Summer cooling.

    Very interesting article, thanks both.


  • tico

    Hi Richard,

    My sister saw your response and, wouldn’t you know, those tasty fancies did make it to the UK. Sarah just sent me this note: “Richard lamented, among other things, that the MelOrol had been unavailable in England – He might be interested to know that the MelOrol was in fact made in England ! His comment brought to mind something that I had found years ago – but I couldn’t find it anywhere in the chaos of my “notes”. Luckily the phrase “Midlands” popped into my head. So I just Googled “Midlands” and “Ice Cream” and found :

    – – “Midland Counties Dairy”, located in Wolverhampton England near Birmingham UK, sold MELOROLS!

    The J. Lyons Co, their current owner after four company takeovers, has a very cool website about their history, including reproductions of three of their old menus offering “MelOrols” [down the left side of the page] – and even two photos of the MelOrol being manufactured.

    The J. Lyons Co. retains the name of their Ice Cream Branch as “Midlands Dairy Ice-Cream”, likely because of its long-time name recognition.

    – They note that the MelOrol was also sold as “Polar Maid” (possibly for distribution in some other localities).

    PS – Borden was very strong in Canada – lots of MelOrols there.

  • Tony Mathis

    Hi Tico,

    I followed up on some of the comments above. Regarding MelORol in the UK, here is a link to the webpage Sarah mentioned detailing the history of Midland Counties Dairy, and including photos of the MelORol production area:

    I also have a reprint article from the August 1985 Dairy Record describing the newly opened third plant for Isaly Klondike, located in suburban Los Angeles. Cherry-Burrell supplied a 3-barrel Vogt Freezer and most of the other ice cream production equipment, as well as the plant’s overall automation control system. This was a close duplicate of the Klondike facility in Clearwater, FL, and could produce over 1 million Klondike bars per week. There was also an operation in Pennsylvania at the time, but I don’t have any information about that one.

    For fun, here is a tour of the Florida Klondike factory. In the first 5 seconds you can see the front of the 3-barrel Vogt Freezer showing frost on the heads and pipes.

  • tico

    Hi Tony, this is all So Great!

  • tico

    Hey Tony,

    The background instrumental on the Klondike youtube video is “Tico Tico,” a novelty Brazilian song from the 1930s that I play on the guitar!

  • Tony Mathis

    Those are amazing coincidences – both the song title and the 1930s period when the song and the MelORol process were created!

  • Shirl Kasper

    Thank you for posting this history. I am researching another inventor who I believe followed in Clarence Vogt’s footsteps; could the writer of these blogs on Mr. Vogt be kind enough to contact me?

  • tico

    I replied in an email.

  • Jay

    Very interesting history! I found this page after encountering a mention of “Melorol” in E.L. Doctorow’s novel, “World’s Fair.”

  • tico

    Wow! Can you possibly remember what page it was on?

  • I have an used cherry burrel vogt instant freezer, V8D, 1723, 7.5 hp, 70 GPH. and i need repare it.
    Can you help me whit spare parts and maintenance manual, information ref refrigeration sistem and rpm recomendated for operation whit cream process

  • tico

    Hello Jesus, I will bring your question to someone who might be able to advise you.

  • Bill DeMaso

    We loved it! It was a good quality ice cream. I was the soda jerk for my Grandfather’s candy store and made many an ice cream cone. Will they ever return? It was great how they fit so well in the cone!

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