How Gina Husted Became the Queen of Skippy’s Ice Cream
By: Amari D. Pollard
Skippy has always been a mystery: as illustrious as Santa Clause and as illusive as a leprechaun. As a kid, and even as an adult, all you knew about Skippy was that he sent his trusted workers into local neighborhoods when the clouds dispersed, and the sun came out. They handed out happiness on frozen sticks, found in bomb pops and Nutty Buddies. When the familiar jingle echoed down the road, it was the universal Upstate New York signal to scream for your parents to get the money out and then run down the street before it was too late and Skippy’s was gone.
Little do people know; Skippy resides right off 7th N Street and is actually a woman. Gina Husted has been at the helm of Skippy’s Ice Cream for the last 10 years, making sure Central New York gets its fill of ice cream for the summer months.
Husted and her husband were approached by the previous Skippy’s owner about 15 years ago to become partners and decided to go into business together. The owner still managed the company and ran it out of East Syracuse, but when he was ready to sell the company, the Husted’s thought becoming the full owners was a no brainer. They had the infrastructure from Husted Dairy and Ice and eagerly stepped into the leading role. “I loved stopping Mr. Softee, which was big when I was a kid, but never thought it would become something that I would put out there,” says Husted. “It’s funny to think that people now call me up asking if we’re coming to their area today.”
Right now, Husted is in the heart of ice cream season, so work is around the clock. Most days she’s stuck in the office while friends are posting pictures on social media of them by the lake or on the beach, and for a moment Husted thinks she might be doing something wrong, but then she remembers the work she’s doing is worth it.
“I like being busy and thinking about creative things we can do, like menu items for Skippy’s soft-serve trucks,” says Husted. “We’ve come up with a cheesecake sundae, ice cream sandwich sundae, and ice cream nachos. I try to do a lot of different things, so I’m always bouncing around, and it makes the day go fast.”
Husted wants to do everything, and does her best to make sure it works. Skippy’s has attended the Syracuse Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival and the Chinese Lantern Festival, weddings, communions and
a funeral, just to name a few. Right now, Husted is looking forward to expanding the company into other areas around Upstate NY. Giving back to the community is important. We gave a portion of May’s proceeds to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Elmcrest Children’s Center,” tells Husted. “I like to give back because without the community, we’d be out of business. The businesses around here keep this small local business in business.”
The dream for this business is to keep it going for as long as possible, or until
one of the children decides they want the family business. All three have worked for Skippy’s in some capacity and have an affinity for ice cream, just like their parents. “It’s nice to have them around and working with us, so who knows…” laughs Husted. “They may want to stick around Syracuse and take over. The opportunity is there if they want to take advantage, but all in all, I want to see them happy.”
Until then, Husted enjoys running things. It’s definitely not what she pictured herself doing—she originally wanted to be an architect but went for an office job when she discovered it was more than drawing blueprints, eventually working at Bond, Schoeneck and King—but she’s happy. Husted gets to bring people happiness on frozen sticks, and that’s pretty awesome.