The History of Isaly’s

The Making of a Family Tradition

The story begins in 1833 when Swiss cheesemaker, Christian Isaly and his family crossed the seas with his family to join other Swiss settlers in the picturesque hills of Monroe County, Ohio. Packed with their belongings was Isaly’s most precious possession: his copper cheese kettle.

Generations of Isalys carried on the family trade, expanding from cheese making to dairy farming, and delivering bottled milk from house to house in horse-drawn carts. Eventually they formed Isaly’s Dairy Companies to sell farm-fresh dairy products and a wide variety of fresh deli meats and cheeses through Isaly’s own chain of retail stores in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.

A tradition was born as families streamed in on warm summer evenings for the now legendary “Skyscraper” cones, butter, cheese, baked ham and bologna and, of course, Isaly’s signature Chipped Chopped Ham and Old Fashioned Ice Cream.

See below for images from Brian Butko’s The Story of Isaly’s: Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones. To learn more about the history of Isaly’s, please visit Brian Butko’s website www.brianbutko.com.
  • Swiss dairy farm scene that hung in Isaly’s stores. Photo Gaylord LaMond.

  • The famous copper cheese kettle was displayed for years at various Isaly’s plants. Photo William R. Isaly.

  • George Krohe at the Homewood Isaly’s, east of Pittsburgh, in 1932. From left: Helen Hartley, Jim Wilson, Krohe, and Sue Phieffer. Photo George Krohe.

  • Painted signs at Marion indicated that the rear buildings were part of the plant. William R. Isaly

  • Pamela Grell believes that this is the first day of the Skyscraper scoop, designed by her father, Sam Jennings. Store supervisor Carl Rafoth is scooping the cones at the Youngstown plant salesroom while Grell’s dad watches (at Rafoth’s right). Photo Pamela Grell.

  • Pittsburgh-branch stores aimed for a modern, uniform look. Here, the Canonsburg Isaly’s store-front shows off trendy art deco lettering. Photo Mrs. Ralph M. McAfee.

Click here to view historical Isaly’s clips from WQED, voiced by Rick Sebak.


The Tradition Goes On

In the 1980’s, after the Isaly family retired, the baton was passed to long time provisioners and friends, the Deily family. After much success, the brand changed hands once more in 2015 when Tim Deily sold it to food industry veterans Jim and Leslee Conroy, owners of Conroy Foods, Inc. The Conroys have been in the food business since 1986, building Beano’s Original Deli Condiments from a restaurant in Blawnox, PA of the same name. Tim trusted the Conroy family to carry on the incredible legacy of quality associated with the name Isaly’s–keeping the brand, in essence, “all in the family.” Under the Conroys, Isaly’s deli products have met steady demand in food chains and independent stores all over Southwest Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and beyond by remaining passionately committed to preserving Isaly’s original recipes and quality.


Today’s Isaly’s Nation

Once a fan, always a fan! Isaly’s Nation exists here in Pittsburgh and around the country. Aside from your favorite grocery store, you can get an Isaly’s chipped ham sandwich at Heinz Field or grab a scoop of Isaly’s Whitehouse Cherry ice cream at PNC Park. People who’ve moved away from Isaly’s Nation make a point of taking Isaly’s Chipped Chopped Ham back to their new hometowns. Pittsburgh Steeler Clubs around the country have Isaly’s Chipped Chopped Ham shipped in for big games. And people who live where Isaly’s is sold just keep going back for more -not just Isaly’s Original Chipped Chopped Ham and Barbecue Sauce but Old Fashioned Ice Cream and a whole line of Isaly’s Deli Hams, Turkey, and Cheeses. Did you “Remember Isaly’s” when you shopped this week?

  • Grab an Isaly’s Chipped Chopped Ham Sandwich at Heinz Field while cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pitt Panthers! The stand is located in the Fed Ex Great Hall between sections 101 and 106.

  • Treat yourself to a scoop of Isaly’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream while you root for the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park! Flavors include Isaly’s original Whitehouse Cherry and Maricopa (butterscotch) as well as other delicious fan favorites. Find us at the Sweet Spot, located in Section 119.

  • Martino’s on Vine, a Steeler’s bar in Cincinnati, ready to watch a playoff game complete with some Isaly’s Chipped Chopped Ham and barbecue sauce.

“I Remember Isaly’s”

I grew up in Monongahela, PA and remember going just about everyday as a child to Isaly’s. Either for the Klondikes, Chipped ham or those amazing deviled crabs. When I misbehaved it was my trip to Isaly’s that was taken away from me..as you can imagine I didn’t misbehave too much. I now own a hot dog cart in Arizona and whenever I make a trip back to the “burgh” I always bring several pounds of the chipped ham. Until it”s gone I serve an amazing “sammich” for all the Pittsburghers that live out here. I have a great all beef hot dog and then top with a heap of juicy warm Isaly’s chipped ham and some fresh grated Asiago cheese. The “burghers” LOVE IT! And for the moment they are reminded of their childhood back in the Steel city. Thanks Isaly’s for keeping those memories alive. 

Randy Walters

This is my Isaly Dairy on our Community Train Display-Our annual new years eve tradition is a crock pot full of Isaly's BBQ Chip Chopped Ham & Sauce. We introduced all of our friends to it!

Roger Peterson north bloomfield Ohio

My Dad was employed by Isaly's, starting in the early days with the horses. I grew up on Isaly milk and you cannot get that good tasting milk today in Atlanta. What a treat it was to go to Isaly’s in Youngstown for lunch and a skyscraper ice cream cone plus visit with my Dad, plus a very special Aunt and Uncle who were also employed there. We still bring back chipped chopped ham when we go back to Youngstown for a visit. HMMMMMM HMMMMM GOOD! Yes, I certainly have many fond memories.

Diana Balas, Fayetteville, GA

When I was a child my favorite was Isaly's in Mahoningtoww & there giant vanilla cones. Later when I worked for my Dad at PAGLEY Shoe Repair that's where I ate lunch. The had the best apple pie top off with a large scoop of ice cream. Days gone by never to be again . SO SAD .

Paul R. Pagley New Castle Pa.

Almost every Saturday my Aunt Ann and I would ride the bus to downtown Pittsburgh to shop in “town”. On our way home we would always get off the bus near the Bloomfield Isaly’s. We ended our shopping days with chocolate milkshakes and cheese crackers. How I loved those trips and looked forward to that milkshake! 

Kathy McClory Foster

Isaly's: A Story"Isaly's" ((( A Story )))It was a family made store With the skyscraper cone And surely the Klondike With a name of its ownAnd the Chipped Chopped Ham Was the ultimate king And the sit-down-tables Was a wonderful thingAnd the checkered made floor In its green & white classic Is what really and truly Made it fantasticAnd last but not least Was the outside sign With the trademark Isaly's In their black & white design

Billie Nardozzi Green Tree, PA

I grew up in Blairsville, PA. In the 1950s when I was in my early teens my mother had a job at Isaly's. After school we would gather at Isaly's and enjoy the Klondike bars we always would get (there were no freebies from my mother, either). They were always so cool on a Summer's day. Even though I'm a modified vegetarian today, I still remember the chipped ham my mother would bring home or have us go down and buy to make those tasty sandwiches. I always enjoyed the lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches with the chipped ham. Those are times long gone but not forgotten. - Alex H.

Alex H

I worked for 2 Isaly’s stores in the late 40s, after returning from Europe. Marysville and Columbus, on the east side. Still have pleasant memories of life then. 

Bob Caldwell

Happiness is....Your ice cream and chipped ham 🙂 Growing up in the Burgh we so enjoyed getting the Isaly's skyscraper cones. Mom would surprise us by getting the Chipped Ham for dinner. When we get back "home" I always buy about 10 pounds of the Chipped Ham. I keep it frozen to make it back to Montana. We miss having the skyscraper cones but we did sit with cousins and enjoyed the ice cream in the store. It brought back lots of wonderful memories.

Virginia ( O'Leary ) Ketterling Billings, Montana

We moved to Mars, PA from West View…..but LOVED our dentist appointments because we always knew we could have Isaly’s for a treat. How I so looked forward to those visits. Strange ….how a kid could have good memories of a doctor or dentist visit. THANKS ISALY’S!!!!! I now am grown and live in KY with my own family……but continue to order from you. Don’t ever stop!!!!!

Diane Coleman

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