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Who Remembers…Frates Dairy & Ice Cream?


Frates Dairy & Ice Cream at 2840 Acushnet Avenue (1930-2001)

Here is another installment in our Who Remembers? series. You can browse previous articles by using the search bar on the right. These articles are strolls down memory lane. In some cases the buildings may still exist, but new businesses have replaced them. In other instances, the buildings or even the properties have been razed. Either way, it can’t stop us from taking the Memory Lane stroll!

As always we would rather this be a discussion. No one knows this area better than those who grew up here! Please, leave constructive criticism, feedback, and corrections. We’d love to hear your anecdotes. Please share!

Ah…the iconic Frates Milk Bottle! Funny how something so simple in terms of marketing can be so effective. If our mom and dad asked us where we wanted to go to have ice cream, it was EASY: Frates! If a parent would have asked why, we would have used their own quip against them: “Because.” People would say “What is the big deal? It’s not like you go anything from going to a place that was a giant dairy bottle.”


You got excitement. You got juiced. You got jazzed. Your imagination would kick in and you could imagine it full of milk – or even ice cream – and you are swimming about in it. The giant milk bottle was fun. Pure and simple.

Frates Dairy & Ice Cream bottle caps (EBay)

The Frate’s Dairy & Ice Cream bottle was built as one of three circa 1930 by designer Les Labrose at 2840 Acushnet Avenue by the Frates family*. The other two being in Boston and Raynham. This location made generations of kids happy, but it wasn’t the Frates family’s only spot. They also had a shop in the South End of New Bedford on the corner of South Water Street and Cove Road. Of course, when Route 18 came along, the location got the boot.

The milk bottle, which stands 52 feet high and was painted to look like the real deal: full of milk with a bit of cream at the top. Well, the real deal if you are old enough to remember that cream separated from milk and came in bottles – and even was delivered to your doorstop by a milkman. Explain that one to your kids and they’ll think you’re pulling their leg.

Some time in 2003 Crystal and Scott Vurpillatte purchased both the building and the business and called it “Tali” after their daughter. Business did not do so well and by 2005 the bottle was up for sale. A year later G&S Pizza bought it and moved from a few buildings away. Yes, they serve ice cream from Spring through Summer!

Some stellar photos on the outstanding WhalingCity.net.

* A story shared on WhalingCity.net states that the bottle “…was not designed and built by the owners, but by Jethro O. Ashley (1897-1975), carpenter and aviator.” A fan has stated “Frates bottle was built by Dosithe Guilotte who owned New Bedford Lumber. He was my grandfather.”

About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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  1. Do you have any pictures of a cookie store on acushnet Ave in the 50’s

    • I remember that cookie store with all the glass containers of cookies. I loved the shortbread kind with raspberry jam in the middle! As for Frates, remember how clean and dairy-ish it smelled? And my aunt used to get their egg nog for Thanksgiving….not sweet like Hood’s. As for home delivery, we had Hood delivered to our back porch, In winter, the milk would freeze and pop the cap off!. in the early ’70’s I lived in Marion and had home delivery from Gibbs farm dairy and we could still get milk with the cream on top! (spoken by one who drinks nothing but skim—oops, I mean fat-free milk today)

    • Could it be Cookie land owned by the Poyant family?

  2. Does anyone know the name of he older man who worked at Frates Dairy in May of 1975? I have a picture of him and I am trying to determine who he was.

  3. The Hood Milk Bottle was originally located on the banks of the Three Mile River on Winthrop Street (Route 44) in Taunton, Massachusetts. Arthur Gagner built the structure in 1933 to sell homemade ice creamnext to his store. It was one of the first fast-food drive-in restaurants in the United States and was built using the “Coney Island” style of architecture. Gagner sold the bottle to the Sankey family in 1943. It was abandoned in 1967. The bottle stood vacant for ten years until H.P. Hood and Sons, Inc. was persuaded to buy it and give it to Boston Children’s Museum in 1977.[

    • My great uncle Bob Sankey owned the bottle (Sankey’s Milk Bottle ) for years. I am glad it is saved and taken to Boston for all to share.

  4. The Frates dairy farm used to be located at 368 Horseneck Rd, in South Dartmouth. The barn is no longer standing.

    • This is exactly the information I came here to find. I’ve been thinking about Frates Dairy and wondering about their production facilities. Was the Frates Dairy in South Dartmouth large enough to supply all their dairy needs, or did Frates procure dairy products from other farms in the area? And did they produce the ice cream at 368 Horseneck Rd. in South Dartmouth?

  5. I think I remember a Frates on Dartmouth St across from Benny’s. It’s ERA Costello now

    • I remember this location on Dartmouth St. from the late 60’s & early 70’s..not sure when it closed & got sold.

    • I worked at the one on Dartmouth St during my high school years, in the 60s!
      Great place….great owners and co-workers!!

  6. i remember when my dad was a manager at Frates Dairy and I would be bought lots of ice cream. I miss those days.

  7. peter seacrist

    There used to be a Frates onRoute 1 in Plainville, MA where the Chieftan restaurant is now. Looking for a photo but no luck yet

  8. Lisa Teixeira Bingham

    I lived on Victoria St. in the late 60’s and most Saturday’s my friend Lynn Telesmanik and I would ride our bikes up to Frates and buy a hot fudge sundae for 50 cents- 5 cents extra if you wanted nuts! Those were the days.

  9. My father, David Constantine, was co-owner of Frates in the early to mid-1980s. My 2nd grade class from Jireh Swift actually walked there for a field trip and we all received a free cone! Great memories.

  10. Hi, just doing some research on this place, found an old milk bottle in the woods yesterday, had a hole in in and wanted to see how old it is. see they were opened from 1930-2001 wow! how close was Rochester Ma for the business ?

  11. I remember as a kid my dad would wait til the very last minute to put his blinker on to turn into Frates where we knew we were going to experience the creamiest tasting ice cream on the southcoast my dad would say “Now kids we r just here to watch the other people eat” ahh memories

  12. Does anyone remember the ice cream flavor called “Malachite”? During the summer of 1975 I worked at The Sweet Shop on Main Street on Nantucket Island. Our ice cream came from Frates and one of the most popular flavors was Malachite – a green mint ice cream with toffee chips in it. I’m wondering if anyone has the recipe for it or if it exists any more. Thanks for the memories!

    • The malachite ice cream is the favourite of a character in Elin Hildebrand’s ‘The Summer of ’69’ which is set on Nantucket Island. Thank you for explaining what it is – I came to this site in an effort to find out! The other flavour mentioned is butter brickle

  13. My favorite flavor at Frates was pistachio.
    It was the only place I knew,
    whereby there were no nut chunks in it.

    Nowadays I’ve learned to eat it with such chunks,
    but as a kid I hated the chunks due to being
    fooled in cruel fashion with another food experience.

  14. I loved Frates. We lived on Lloyd street when I was in High School. I think that all of my friends and I worked there, at some point during one of our summer vacations. They were very strict about cleanliness, you learned to be quick and clean behind yourself. Such wonderful times. Thanks for the memory.

  15. Rger R. Trahan,Sr.

    I worked at Frates dairy around the late 1940″s. I shall be 87 New Years Eve and am very healthy. I became a faculty member at Assumption College.

    One figure stands out concerning Frates. I was told then that on a very busy summer night ( they all were )
    85 5-gallon cans of ice cream were sold. Remembering how feverishly fast I filled cones and boxes I don’t doubt it.

    At the end of our shift, late evening, we accompanied Mr. Frates to his nearby home with the proceeds of the night. I always wondered if he was ever robbed.

    Since he was blind he would “paw” an open container of ice cream to check the amount of ice cream we gave a customer.

    Thems were the days!

  16. I worked for Romy. He was a great guy, but when you worked for Romy, you WORKED!

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