Gifford’s “World’s Best Chocolate” ice cream claimed the grand champion title for two years in a row at the World Dairy Expo, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the Skowhegan-based company is now considering adding a recipe called “72 percent chocolate” to its repertoire.

The chocolatey frozen treat is one of the 20 or so flavors Gifford’s will be inheriting from the “other” Gifford’s it recently purchased — Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy in Silver Spring, Md.

“It’s a chocolate base, and it has a ton of chocolate chips and some other chocolate pieces in it,” said Lindsay Gifford-Skilling, vice president of sales at the Maine Gifford’s. “That’s one we’ll be evaluating.”

The purchase of the Maryland company, founded in 1938, is an opportunity for the Maine-based Gifford’s to expand into untapped territory, Gifford-Skillling said. The Maine company, which is family-owned but not related to the Maryland Gifford family, bought the Maryland company’s trade name and assets so that it will be able to distribute its ice creams in the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The Maryland Gifford’s had offices in Silver Spring, but did not have any production facilities; the company contracted out the making of its ice cream to someone else.

The Maine Gifford’s, founded in the early 1980s, has 30 full-time, year-round employees, and up to 100 in summer, when the company operates its five seasonal ice cream stands. It sells ice cream throughout New England, New York and New Jersey.

The Maryland Gifford’s sold its products throughout the Maryand-D.C. area.

“Basically it’s our next step as far as territory,” Gifford-Skilling said. “Gifford’s is looking to grow, and Maryland is the next logical state for us to go to, so it opens a huge market with millions of people to offer an award-winning premium product to that customer base. That’s just a huge opportunity for us, and one to cut back on that confusion of there being two Gifford’s. It can be very confusing for customers.”

The Maine company makes about 60 different flavors and adds about eight new flavors a year, she said.

The family of John Gifford, the founder of the Maryland company, has provided the Maine business with original, handwritten recipes for his ice cream. The Maine Giffords are in the process of evaluating those recipes and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to tweak and add to their menu.

“We have to look at the sales, obviously, just as we do for our flavors, to see what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense, and where is there room for us to offer a new flavor?” Gifford-Skilling said.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

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