PEMBROKE — Even the family that makes and sells grape ice cream doesn’t know exactly why it’s such a big deal during Lumbee Homecoming but for them the color purple is green.
Dorsey Marie Bryant Hunt and her husband Glenn have been making grape ice cream about 12 years and although they sell it year-round, the Lumbee tribe’s annual homecoming festival is when they really churn it out.
“I’m not sure why but here in Pembroke they say that grape is the flavor for the week of the Fourth,” Glenn said. “Everybody seems to be after the grape. We’ve sold a lot of grape so far.”
During the hottest part of the day on Monday, a line of about 15 people waited patiently at the Hunt’s vendor tent to buy ice cream and the family’s other food offerings.
“It’s just good. It’s just got a good flavor to it. It’s homemade here,” Kellie Hunt, a customer, said. “You know how you get a grape juice and it tastes like grape? It’s the same way with this ice cream.”
Josh Strickland was waiting for his scoop as well.
“I just like the flavor,” Strickland said. “You can only get it in Pembroke.”
Dorsey said she and her husband were inspired to start selling ice cream when they saw Amish vendors selling it at a festival in the midwest.
“We went to Ohio and saw them doing ice cream and we knew that nobody around here was doing ice cream and so we figured, you know, a lot of people love ice cream back home so we just came back home and started making homemade ice cream,” Dorsey said. “It’s been a hit.”
“We just wanted to do something different,” she said. “We were just playing around and coming up with a different taste,” Dorsey said.
It took a while to develop their recipes for ice cream, she said.
“Actually what we would do is, with all of it, we would make some, have a lot of our friends come over, sit down and taste it and see what they thought about how it tasted,” Dorsey said. “If all of them liked it we would know that was the right recipe.”
Asked if she puts grape juice in it, Dorsey smiled and politely declined to say.
“That’s a secret I do not tell,” Hunt said.
They also make black walnut, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
In addition to ice cream, the Hunts and their team of 15 family and church family members make and sell chicken bog, and collard sandwiches.
Glenn said two five-gallon ice cream buckets powered by a 1927 John Deere hit-and-miss engine take about 40 minutes to complete the freezing process. As with traditional homemade ice cream buckets, it takes ice and rock salt to freeze the mixture. The rock salt keeps the ice around the buckets frozen.
On Monday prior to the Fourth of July holiday, the supply struggled to meet the demand.. Of all the flavors they make, about half of what they sell during homecoming is grape.
“We’ve been offered money for the recipe for the ice cream, but we decided to keep it in the family,” Glenn said.
The Hunts sell ice cream by the half-gallon at $8 per bucket. Call 910-521-8267 for information.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.