There’s no doubt that the Blount Fine Foods New Bedford Seaport Chowder Festival – more commonly known as Chowderfest – is a signature event in New Bedford, with the chance to sample chowders and other soups from dozens of SouthCoast restaurants, kitchens and food trucks.

Yet this Saturday’s 17th annual Chowderfest will be an opportunity to taste something uniquely New Bedford that hasn’t been sampled in these parts for decades: Silmo Syrup’s signature coffee syrup.

It will be part of a signature cocktail (and mocktail) offered at Chowderfest this Saturday, October 8, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at City Pier 3.

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Generations in New Bedford grew up with the taste of Silmo Syrup, but it hasn’t been in production since the late 1990s. New Bedford City Council President Ian Abreu, whose grandfather was one of the owners of Silmo back in the 1970s and ‘80s, is working with his family to bring Silmo back to the shelves and restaurants of the SouthCoast.

“Bringing Silmo Syrup back to our community has always been something sort of on the back of my mind,” he said. “Due to my extremely busy professional and personal obligations, it’s been sort of a ‘slow and steady’ process, but we have made some significant progress over this last year – like filing our corporate paperwork, re-securing the naming rights, finding a production site and office space, and purchasing most of the production equipment needed.”

Of course, the public has been clamoring for coffee milk ever since the announcement that Silmo was making a return. This Saturday, people can get their first taste of Silmo in decades in a special concoction.

“I was approached by friend Jonathan Pogash of The Cocktail Guru a few weeks ago asking if we were interested in providing him with some of Silmo’s finest for his ‘New Beige Coffee Milk’ drink which will be featured at this year’s Chowderfest. Of course we had to oblige!” Abreu said. “Those who purchase this specially-made coffee drink from his stand on Saturday will actually be the first consumers to taste Silmo Coffee Syrup in over 20 years.”

Pogash, the president and owner of The Cocktail Guru, said incorporating Silmo was a natural fit.

“I’ve been serving up the ‘New Beige Coffee Milk,’ an adult version of coffee milk, at Chowderfest for the last five years or so, and I thought that we would change it up a bit – a reboot – so we created the ‘New Beige Coffee Milk #2’ using Silmo as the featured coffee syrup,” he said.

One SouthCoast Chamber via Facebook
One SouthCoast via Facebook

The cocktail will feature the Silmo Coffee Syrup along with Blue Chair Bay Mocha Rum Cream, espresso vodka, and fresh nutmeg.

“Ian Abreu has been a huge supporter of The Cocktail Guru, and the local community as a whole, so we thought that partnering with him on their new venture and the revival of Silmo at Chowderfest made sense this year,” Pogash said. “Silmo really does compliment our New Beige Coffee Milk, which we will also serve as a non-alcoholic option.”

Abreu also said Silmo is getting closer and closer to making its big return.

“This is just yet another small step towards the big finish hopefully within the next few months,” he said. “I’m very excited over what’s in store for the future of Silmo Packaging Company, and I’m hopeful everyone will be as excited, too.”

New Bedford's Silmo Factory Circa 1951

Did you know that Silmo coffee syrup used to be made right here in New Bedford? It was manufactured in the current Inner Bay Cafe building. Here are some throwback photos from 1951.

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