by Chris Conklin
Each time we are asked to provide a background of our Ice business, it certainly gets my mind reminiscing on the rich, deep-rooted history we have to look back on in our community. There are countless special events, and incredible venues we have provided for flawlessly over our years of service. Being a part of the fifth-generation ownership, I, Christopher Conklin, can speak to the experiences over my tenure, and I am quite sure our dad, and his father, grandfather, and great grandfather had experiences that made them equally as proud as I am to represent our family in business on Long Island.
Six generations back, in 1880, was when our longstanding history of ice began on the East End of Long Island. Currently in our sixth generation, we are the second oldest family owned & operated ice company in the entire country; the oldest beats us by roughly 8 years, York Ice, started in 1872. At the time, Long Island Ice harvested “natural Ice” from various ponds, which was stored in tremendous warehouses for use during the remainder of the year. There was no artificial refrigeration at the time, so ice was insulated and packed in sawdust to preserve the product for upcoming months.
In 1909, a fire at “The Forge” pushed Long Island Ice to build more modern facilities, which brought us to the main street location where the plant stands today. The Long Island Ice Riverhead Ice House was one of the first “artificial” ice plant in the country upon completion of the facility in 1910. The modern facility was equipped with two large diesel / ammonia compressors that also ran generators to produce electricity for the rest of the plant. During the earlier years, the plant would typically never shut down, running continuously 24/7/365 in an effort to meet the increasing demands for Ice. The primary product produced during that era was in the form of 300 lb. blocks, commonly used for home Ice boxes. The block ice also played a large role in the East End farming industry as they were used for refrigerated Ice cars on the railroads.
Long Island Ice expanded into 8 operating Ice plants throughout Long Island in both Suffolk & Nassau, with many locations on the South Fork, to meet the growing demands for more ice between 1910 – approximately 1947. Long Island Ice also engaged in various other business ventures, such as cold storage during WWII, coal delivery, fuel storage and distribution, motor oils and even Beer sales! However, ice has always been the mainstay and focus of the company.
The combination of the end of WWII with the introduction of the home refrigerator, as well as modern refrigeration for rail & truck capacity, led to the sudden, substantial drop in the volume of ice demand. A number of block producing plants across the country were eventually shut down; Long Island Ice used this as an opportunity to once again a part and transform our business, as we did after the fire in 1910, this led to Long Island Ice consolidating plants and the next shift in product lines.
Post WWII, the packaged ice industry as we know it today was at its infancy, and Long Island Ice adapted to fulfill customer needs. Though the demand for block ice was decreasing, there was still demand with a large portion being used by the local fishing fleets in Shinnecock & Montauk, as well as a fair amount of tonnage being used also by the farming community for icing spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
Continuously upgrading and adapting to the changing market, the next development to the ice house was to expand our manufacturing capacity and produce additional Ice cubes to satisfy the rapidly expanding market demand. During this era, cubes were cut from the traditionally made 300 lb. blocks to create a beautiful square cube that is by today’s standards, a classic cube.
The continued evolution of plant expansion and modernization continued over the next 5 decades constantly adding cube making capacity from independent machines, no longer cut from block ice. Rapid expansion continued driven by customer demand and exemplary service into capacity of over 150 tons of daily production with storage for approximately 1000 tons of finished product. We recognized the desire for a wider variety of Ice products / gourmets style Ice has driven us to provide a number of options for additional products such as 2 x 2 perfectly clear square cubes, 2” & 2 ½” spheres (round), diamond shaped, honeycomb cubes and Collins spears (like a butter stick), basically you are only limited to your imagination for the products we can provide.
Consumer demand for a wider variety of Ice products / gourmets style Ice has driven us to provide a number of options for additional products such as 2 x 2 perfectly clear square cubes, 2” & 2 ½” spheres (round), diamond shaped, honeycomb cubes and Collins spears (also referred to as “butterstick”), basically – you are only limited to your imagination for the products we can provide.
We are happy to provide Ice sculpting done by one of the most recognized and awarded Ice carvers on Long Island, as well as a Guinness book record holder. In 2021 Long Island Ice purchased our distributor Montauk Ice, allowing us to offer The South Fork and The Hamptons all-encompassing Ice products along with our 140+ years of proven reliability.
The next generation has excelled on providing all things Ice. During all of our expansions the primary focus has always consistently been to produce the safest food grade and consistent quality Ice products. All materials in our operations consist of food regulated materials, whether it be stainless steel food grade tubing for our icemakers, or the food grade packaging for the bags.
We truly embody the commitment to our mission of providing the finest service available, for six generations, going beyond the just basic ice delivery. Long Island Ice stands behind every cube of Ice we produce, from production to the end user. We show our true dedication to top tier service by the commitments we make every day to our industry, food safety, and our community. We ensure the safety of food products for consumption for your family and the general public by conducting regular independent lab testing of our ice products. We meet all FDA, Suffolk County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures compliance regulations.
Though FDA does certify that ICE IS FOOD, there are not extensive requirements for ice manufacturers to ensure the product is safe. The federal requirements for bottled water manufacturers are tenfold what they are for ice, so the industry decided to elevate the standards for quality food products ourselves.
Long Island Ice and Fuel has been a proud, involved, long standing member of the IPIA International Packaged Ice Association for decades. In order to be a member in good standing, we conform to PICQS+ (Packaged Ice Quality Control Standards) which further guarantees the public is receiving a safe food product. Our family has been involved in the International and Regional associations for decades, holding leadership and committee positions regularly.
Ice is 100% a food, think of it as bottled water in a frozen state. It baffles me when I see people use “homemade” ice cubes to put into their bottled water or favorite beverage. Homemade ice is subject to airborne contamination inside your freezer. Ice absorbs smells, tastes and any other things that are utilizing the same space in your freezer. Another common risk is when folks simply grab a hand full of ice and place it in the drink glass you are preparing for yourself or someone else, Ice for consumption should never be touched by bare hands and tongs or a food grade scoop should be used instead. Think about it, would you walk up to someone and stir their beverage with your fingers? Ice is often referred to as the forgotten food, however it can lead to very serious illnesses if not manufactured, packaged and handled properly. Beware of Ice producers who don’t conform to ALL the safe standards and laws of manufacturing Ice. Some companies make claims that they are not able to support with documentation or violate state laws / safety standards for food manufactures. Producing a safe food grade products has always been #1 priority.
We have had the privilege of providing Ice for exceptionally prestigious events over the years, five U.S. Golf Opens, The Presidents Cup Golf tournament, emergency Ice for TWA flight 800, snow for several major motion pictures, commercials, international & national publication still ads, the backdrop of the Salt Lake City Olympics for NBC. Our family and ice house were also featured in an ad campaign for British Airways, Ice for Caterers for thousands of events and are the exclusive supplier for Yankee Stadium’s Ice needs.
Locally, we pride ourselves on providing the most consistent safe Ice products for the over 1500 customers we provide Ice for throughout both Suffolk and Nassau counties extending from Montauk & Orient Points to the cross-island parkway. We are proud to be 7-11’s #1 supplier of Ice products, servicing over two hundred eighty 7-11 stores. You can find our top quality Ice products across Long Island, look for our attractive Ice freezers with the crisp, clean wraps, and the eye-catching red bag at your favorite location. We provide service for 7-11, beverage stores, large scale events, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, bars & nightclubs, restaurants, home delivery / private parties, and of course we partner with caterers.
Long Island Ice and Fuel Corporation has a very long and rich history of providing our customers with exemplary service with the finest Ice products available. It is difficult not to cite the popular slogan “you’ve tried the rest now, try the best” when it comes to comparing our experience, service, and most of all, our Ice products to the competition. Make no mistake, the Ice business is an extremely demanding business, especially during extended heat waves, however these are the times we rely on the solid foundation we have built to ensure Long Island receives top quality service with their safe ice products. There is no way to achieve the finest service available without consistency; continuously challenging ourselves to maintain our high standards has always been our mantra, instilled generation after generation. Many have tried to replicate our products, service and consistency, to no avail. Ice is in our blood, we have a true asset that cannot be bought, the 6 generations of experience and intense passion for our products and our people. We sincerely thank you for trusting our family for nearly 150 years, and also thank you for allowing us to continue to serve our community with the finest, safe, food grade product and service available.
SERVING THE HAMPTONS WITH THE FINEST ICE DELIVERY ON THE SOUTH FORK
Montauk Ice is the premier supplier of high-quality, food grade ice products in The Hamptons. Whether you’re hosting an event, running a restaurant, or have any other ice needs, we’ll make sure you never have to worry about the ice.
Our team is made up of three cousins who are the sixth generation of icemen; consistency – and ice – is in our blood. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality product with the finest customer service available for the Hamptons. From Shinnecock Canal to Montauk Town, you can rely on us.
Explore our website to learn more about our products and services, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. Thank you for choosing Montauk Ice – let us know what we can do for you!