ORRVILLE, Ohio - Stephen Schmid likes to ask his visitors, "When's the last time you had a milkshake at a convenience store?"
Convenience store, not fast-food outlet.
"Uh, maybe, never," is the reply.
"Never - that's got to change," Mr. Schmid said as he passed out samples of an instant milkshake product that's available at Sheetz stores.
Sold under the name f'REAL, the cups contain a small block of a frozen ice-cream-and-milk mixture. It's placed in a mixing machine, a "secret ingredient" is added, and voila! Instant milkshake.
That secret ingredient, Mr. Schmid reveals, is hot water, in just the right amount to loosen the ice cream brick to make a milkshake rather than an icy jumble.
The f'REAL milkshake cup is one of the newest products to roll off the lines at Smith Dairy Products Co. in Orrville. Smith Dairy didn't invent the shake, but Smith's ice cream is in that cup.
Still a privately held family-run company, Smith Dairy is unashamed of its small-town roots.
John Schmid, one of the two brothers who founded the company in 1909, served as president from 1930 to 1977. His son, Walter, was president from 1977 to 1986, when his son, Stephen, now 57, took over. Stephen's brother, John, is vice president of human resources.
At 57, Stephen Schmid has been at the helm of his family's business for 23 years and is in charge of guiding it into its next corporate century. He said that even in the current economic climate, selling milk remains fairly consistent, and he noted that he expects retail prices to begin to drop because of decreased demand.
Mr. Schmid said the company still buys the majority of its milk within 40 miles of its Orrville plant, mostly from farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Smith Dairy also refuses to purchase milk from farmers who treat their cows with recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, a synthetic growth hormone that increases milk production.