Apple season is here and that means a trip to Mayer Brothers Cider Mill at 1540 Seneca Creek Road, West Seneca, is in order. Customers have been lining up at the mill for fresh cider for 165 years.
Nowadays, Mayer Brothers bottles private-label juice and high-end, premium waters for big-name companies across the country. It’s hard to believe when you take a step back in time at the mill’s store, which features old-fashioned candies and more.
President Garrett Mayer says the shop is more popular than ever thanks to social media. Yes, apple cider slushies have gone viral. You can give them a taste seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., until Thanksgiving, when the seasonal store shuts down.
Mayer took time to talk history, slushies and more.
Question: There is so much history at the mill. How did your family get involved with it?
Mayer: It was 1852. My great, great grandfather purchased it from the Ebenezer Society - that was a religious sect that moved to Amana, Iowa – they eventually made Amana appliances. The cider mill was powered like a flour mill with a horse walking in a circle driving the drive shaft to operate to machinery. There used to be a cider mill every five miles in the country. It took a while to make the transition to where we are today.
Q: Speaking of today, how is this year’s apple crop?
A: The New York State crop is 10 to 20 percent lighter this year than last year. And Michigan is 40 percent lighter.
Q: Where do you get your apples that you press at the mill?
A: They come from all over different parts of the country because they harvest at different times. North Carolina starts the season with fruit from the south and as the apples ripen in the north, we transition to those apples.
Q: How does it feel when you see people line up for your products at your store?
A: That’s great for us. We do a lot of doughnuts and cider slushies and hopefully we’re serving a lot of smiles. It’s fascinating to me. I grew up coming here every day of my life. Everyone really loves the products we make here and everything is made fresh - it’s so fresh and there are no preservatives in anything.
When you go through life eating processed products on a store shelf and you come to a place where everything is fresh without preservatives, it tastes so good!
Q: What are the top sellers?
A: What they can’t seem to stay away from are cider, doughnuts, pies and cider slushies. Those are our big draws and people leave with three of four, or four of four, of those items and they might pick up some maple syrup or pancake mix. They come day in and day out.
Q: What have you done to gain loyal customers over the years?
A: We used to have a hard time letting people know we were open because it’s seasonal, but now it’s somewhat ironic with social media – it’s so great that everyone knows our opening days. It used to be a soft opening, but now with the advent of social media, we’re able to get the word out that we’re open and people can’t wait to come in and it’s great to see people sharing pictures of the mill and what they’re doing.
It’s fun for me to see compared to what it was before. We used to wait for people to show up. We’re very fortunate.
Q: Do you hope future generations will carry on the tradition?
A: That would be neat. I’m fifth generation. I have four kids ranging from 2 to 7 years old. We would like to thank Western New York for supporting us and we want to keep doing good job for them.