When Regina Graeter’s husband, Louis, died in an accident in 1919, she could have easily decided that carrying on her husband’s ice cream business would be too difficult a task to take on. As a widow with two young boys, surely no one would have blamed her. Instead, she chose to face that challenge, and grew the business far beyond what Louis had even had in mind.
Thanks to Regina’s persistence and entrepreneurial spirit, Cincinnatians—and people all across the country—get to experience the joy that comes with indulging in a spoonful of Graeter’s
Chances are, even lifelong Cincinnatians don’t know the incredible story of how Graeter’s came to be what it is today—nor how close they were to never tasting the revelation that is Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.
Flaming Medusa Studios
—a local animation studio owned by Cincinnati native Darcy Vorhees—is looking to change that fact with its new series of animated videos. The project, dubbed the Queen City Chronicles
, aims to tell the stories of 25 iconic Cincinnati companies, the first of which is Graeter’s and is being co-sponsored by HGC Construction
(see video above). The studio also just finished up a video about Lunken Airport
(sponsored by Ultimate Air Shuttle
In addition, videos about the Mayfield Clinic
, Klosterman Baking Company
, Coney Island
, Wood Herron & Evans, LLP
and Drees Homes
are currently in the works.
However, like many of the stories they’re setting out to tell, getting the project to this point has had a few twists and turns along the way.
Evolution of an Idea
Initially, Flaming Medusa wanted to develop a series of videos that focused on various historical figures and events that helped shape Cincinnati into the city it is today.
“I had been thinking about how Cincinnati has so much cool history,” says Vorhees, CEO and chief visionary officer of Flaming Medusa. “So I was just thinking that [starting a series] could be a great way to get some of those stories told.”
The first video of that series was to feature Samuel Hannaford, architect of Cincinnati’s City Hall and Music Hall
, as well as numerous other buildings in the city. But, like many creative endeavors, the missing ingredient was securing the funding to get it done.
So, Flaming Medusa’s VP of business development, David Van Horn, sought an architectural firm to sponsor the video.
“When we started going to these companies, they said, ‘We don’t want to talk about somebody else. We want to talk about ourselves,’” Van Horn says. “So that’s how our original idea evolved.”
A New Approach
As someone born and raised in Cincinnati, Vorhees—a 1997 graduate of Kings High School
—has first-hand knowledge of the pride Cincinnatians feel for their city, as well as their interest in learning about the its rich history. And, when she heard the Graeter’s story while doing research for the initial series, she immediately knew it was one she wanted to tell.
With that story in mind, Flaming Medusa tweaked its original idea, which resulted in the Queen City Chronicles. This new project would tell the stories of 25 prominent Cincinnati companies, in the form of 90-second animated videos. And, since the videos would technically be considered advertisements for the companies, securing funding would be much easier.
Around the same time that Flaming Medusa was developing the idea for the Queen City Chronicles, 3CDC
was preparing to unveil a new LED video board on Fountain Square
. So Van Horn reached out to the organization to discuss a partnership.
“[3CDC] really liked the idea because everything that was on the board at the time was live action,” Van Horn says. “And they wanted to create more of a feeling of community through the board. They wanted community content.”
With 3CDC on board, Flaming Medusa approached the Cincinnati Museum Center
and The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
about becoming partners on the project, to help with research and post the videos on their websites. Both organizations liked the idea of telling these companies’ stories and agreed to participate.
Making It Happen
With a distribution plan in place and its idea fleshed out, Flaming Medusa started approaching companies about being featured in the project last summer. Graeter’s was very open to the idea and immediately joined the fold. And since Vorhees and her team had already had a clear vision for the video prior to approaching Graeter’s, that video has already been released and can be viewed online.
While all the videos are animated, the style of each video will flux to work with the specific company.
“Every company’s story is unique, so we make every video look unique for them,” Van Horn says.
Each video will play on the Fountain Square video board up to 12 times per day for 60 days, and up to four different stories may be featured on the video board during the same time frame. Eventually, all the videos will be featured on both the Museum Center and library websites, as well.
“We’re always looking for ways to develop the distribution of the videos, because our ultimate goal is just for people to watch them,” Vorhees says.
With multiple videos being made simultaneously, Flaming Medusa hopes to release two or three more in the next few months, but a number of factors, including research and editing, make it difficult to set specific dates in stone.
They’re still looking for companies interested in having their story told. And although Vorhees’ original idea evolved into something new, she’s still happy to have the opportunity to tell those stories.
“Even though our goal has changed from wanting to do more general historical stories to being focused on just these companies, I still think these are great stories to tell,” Vorhees says. “Our long-term goal now is to start being able to record these stories and make them available to anyone who may be interested in these topics.”