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Another Bird Flu Casualty: Rita's Pulls Frozen Custard

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Since April, one out of eight chickens has been hit with the Avian flu.

Tens of thousands of chickens have been killed.

And that is creating an egg shortage -- affecting local businesses, including one popular chain.

With 48 million chickens killed by Avian flu this year, there's an egg shortage.

Local bakeries -- like the Party Cake Shop in Brookline and Mt. Lebanon -- have posted signs that certain products can no longer be made.

But one popular summer spot -- with its slogan "Ice – Custard – Happiness" -- is about to make a huge sacrifice.

Rita's with 18 shops in this region will temporarily suspend making custard that requires 1,600 pounds of egg yolks a day to make.

"Their supplier of eggs stopped making the egg yolk product that we use as an ingredient in our custard so it was not available at any price," said Jeff Moody, the CEO of Rita's.

"Aww, it's a shame. That's what makes Rita's so good. It's the custard," exclaimed Kristie Sullivan of South Park.

Sullivan with her son and nephew were not happy to hear that news at their favorite Rita's in Bethel Park.

But owner Jeff Navarro says, don't despair.

"Rita's has done a good job finding a product that is almost as close as custard could be," Navarro told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

It's a soft-serve egg-free ice cream that will mix easily with Rita's fruit-flavored ices for their gelatis.

"Almost an identical recipe with the exception of the eggs to our custard, so we got it as close as we could," notes Moody.

But ice cream for custard?

Is there really a difference between custard and vanilla ice cream?

Connoisseurs might be able to detect a difference in texture and taste -- but without eggs the custard is out.

As for Rita's slogan, is it now "Ice – Ice Cream – Happiness?"

"It's still happiness though," says Navarro.

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