Dear Ann Landers,
I’m an addict! There—I’ve said it! I am obsessed with a frozen food called DoveBar. It began innocently, like most bad habits. I was curious about why one would want to spend $2 on what looked like a simple chocolate-covered Popsicle. Or maybe I couldn’t resist sampling the ice-cream bars that the Chicago Tribune called the best in the country. In any case, now I spend jittery mornings waiting for the DoveBar vendor to arrive. Please help me! How do I get off the stick! Signed,
If such a letter actually reaches the advice columnist, she won’t be much help, since Landers is one of thousands to have given wing to this summer’s DoveBar mania. “I threw a bridal shower and I served the DoveBars on a large gold platter,” Landers says. “It was a hit.”
DoveBars have long been popular in Chicago, where they began humbly in the 1950s as an attempt by Leo Stefanos, who owned two sweet shops called Dove Candies & Ice Cream, to woo his own kids from the neighborhood ice-cream truck. When Leo died in 1977, his son Mike, 33, took control over the process of hand-dipping about 500 rich, quarter-pound bars every day. Chicago businessman Dick Zacharias, 71, so loved the bars, which include Dutch chocolate liqueur in the coating, that he spent a year convincing Stefanos that he could take DoveBars national without changing them. Stefanos finally agreed but refused to fix the clunky square shape of the product or its short stick. “It has a certain mystique,” says DoveBar president Lou Yaseen, 40. “So we left the blemishes.”
With $2 million in backing, Dove Candies transferred operations to a modern $1.25 million plant, where workers process 75,000 bars daily, storing them at 20 degrees below zero. Now, three months after DoveBar’s national debut, it sells for $1.39 to $2 at more than 3,200 supermarkets in 21 states, in Bloomingdale’s and at street-vendor carts in eight cities.
Not to be left out in the cold, Haagen-Dazs plans a similar bar for the fall with a Belgian chocolate coating. This may not be good news for ice cream addicts. After all, DoveBar has some 500 calories, and Häagen-Dazs’ version will have even more butterfat.
Ann Landers may have to answer to that.