Fredenhagen and her daughters Rita and Jeanne shared a deep love for Naperville. So with a nod to both Valentines’ Day and the recent movie “The Founder,” here’s a bit of their story:
Grace’s husband, Walter, owned an ice cream plant in Rushville, Illinois called Frozen Gold. School friend Earl Prince served Frozen Gold at his Downers Grove parlor, Prince Castle.
At the onset of the Depression, Walter sold the Frozen Gold plant and with Earl, opened more Prince Castle shops. The Naperville one opened in 1931 with a dairy behind it to make fresh ice cream.
Prince’s signature offering was the One-in-a-Million malt. For only ten cents, you could get a shake with four scoops of ice cream. It was so thick, that that the motors of the Hamilton-Beach blenders kept burning out.
So Hal and Walter developed the multi-mixer with a three-horsepower motor to mix four malts at one time. In addition to using multi-mixers in Prince Castle stores, they also sold them to other restaurants.
One of their salesmen was a guy from Oak Park named Ray Kroc who traveled the country. He sold a couple of mixers to brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, owners of a burger place in San Bernardino, California. Hamilton-Beach came out with their own multi-mixer which decimated Prince’s sales, so Kroc started another business. For more on that story, watch the new Michael Keaton movie!
Prince Castle continued to thrive throughout the 1940’s, but by 1955, Hal and Walter parted ways. The Fredenhagens continued in the ice cream business joined by family members like son Ted and daughter Rita here in Naperville and daughter Jeanne who shipped strawberries for shakes from her farm in Seattle. The shop’s new name became Cock Robin.
Cock Robin is a huge part of Naperville’s collective memory, from the square scoops to the One-in-a-Million Malts to the English toffee during holidays.
Both Grace a Rita have passed on now. In addition to supporting Cock Robin, Grace Fredenhagen served as president of the Naperville Woman’s Club and director of the Chorus.
Rita was also active, serving with the Rotary, on the Fire and Police Board of Commissioners and on the Edward Hospital Institutional Review Board.
The Cock Robin on Washington Street closed in 2000. Today, it is Fredenhagen Park. The park was dedicated in 2004 by Rita and Ted in honor of their parents Grace and Walter.