Culver's was founded in the Midwest in 1984. This is easily discerned from its blue-and-white dining room, which looks like you've somehow stumbled across some fold in the space-time continuum and found yourself in Sauk City, Wisconsin right around the same time Kenny Loggins was tearing up the Billboard charts with "Footloose"—this despite the fact that Culver's opened its Research Forest location in The Woodlands in 2005.
8800 Six Pines Dr.
I half expected to hear a soundtrack of Prince, Van Halen, and Culture Club as I sat down with my very first cone of Culver's custard last week, and was only partly disappointed to find that the mid-'80s vibe extended primarily to the small-town feel of the fast-food restaurant and its wonderfully retro design.
My buddy, who lived in the Midwest for a few years in the early 2000s, reports that Culver's hasn't changed at all since it was opened, and I can see how there's a sort of comfort to this. Imagine if Wendy's still had its salad bar, or if Whataburgers were still housed in their old-school A-frame buildings—and both looked brand-new. This is, at least partly, the appeal of Culver's.
The rest of the appeal lies in that frozen custard (and, I'm told, the famous Butterburgers, though I was still full from a trip to Fielding's Wood Grill just down the street). Frozen custard is softer and richer than ice cream, thanks to a high percentage of butterfat and the addition of egg yolks into the batch. Though both custard and ice cream each contain at least 10 percent butterfat, it's those golden yolks that bring an extra richness to frozen custard.
Custard is more of a Northeastern and Midwestern treat, and wasn't popular in Houston until places like Connie's and Ritter's spring up within the last decade. These days, Houston has homegrown options for custard such as Petite Sweets and imports such as Culver's (which now has four Houston-area locations) to satisfy its sweet tooth for those days when you just need something a little different than ice cream—and, in the case of Culver's, a short trip through time.
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