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LA Ice Cream Classics: name your faves

Summer's coming to and end, and I realize I still don't know what the LA ice cream classics are! I'm talking about a regional company that's been around for a few decades but never made it big enough to be loved by anyone who isn't an Angeleno. Something that people miss when they move away, and that reminds them of growing up here.

For San Francisco, it would be something like It's It ice cream sandwiches or Mitchell's ice cream.

Is LA's equivalent Carvel? Penguin? I've seen both around but been to neither. Thrifty's?

Bennett's in The Farmer's Market near The Grove might fit the bill, but I don't think they sell any ice cream at other locations. Incidentally, I tried their fresh peach the other day and found it lacking in peach flavor and a little foamy in terms of mouthfeel. Not bad, but not great.

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  1. C. C. Brown's hot fudge sundaes--best ever. For this too young (almost everybody probably)--it was next to "Grauman's" Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd--best place to have a kid's party when I was a kid.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ThatPat

      I agree with ThatPat-C.C. Brown's was wonderful. Incredible hot fudge sundaes, wood booths, long marble countertop. A few years ago you could still buy the fudge and carmel sauce in jars at Gelson's. Apparently they sold to Lawry's condiments and it is no longer available, but perhaps in the future. http://www.ccbrowns.com/

      Does anyone remember the Carnation's Soda Foundation on Sunset Blvd? Unfortunately both of these classic ice cream places are long gone.

      Of the survivors, I vote for Fosselman's for classic ice cream.

      1. re: ostudio

        yes, i remember carnations very well ...going there with my grandparents on saturday night...the glittery pavement outside and the cigarette vending machine inside. i miss that a lot! but my vote is also for thrifty ice cream now in rite aid.

      2. re: ThatPat

        Obviously I meant to say "For those too young...", not for "this". I am getting senile!

      3. I know Fossilman's supplies other stores, but not sure about the reach their products have. Even some people here haven't heard of them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: daluji

          Fosselman's fresh peach ice cream was among the best of the fresh fruit flavored ice creams I have ever tasted.

        2. I would have to say Mashti Malone's

            1. re: kevin

              OH YEAH!!! MCconnells of Santa Barbara! I feel like a king when I find it for 3 bucks instead of 4 at Gelsons! ISLAND COCONUT IS MY WEAKNESS. Turkish Coffee is strange and addicting.....Peppermint Stick is just plain wacky!

            2. oh, up to a couple weeks ago, fosselman's had fresh peach ice cream, really good.
              one note: this is old fashioned ice cream, nothing re-invented, not artisanal, but still good. and some have nice high butterfattyness.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kevin

                Peach is one of the seasonals - as in "when peaches are in season", which is just one reason why I love Fosselman's. Peach season has come and gone, and their current seasonal is pumpkin. My wife, who by the way loathes pumpkin pie, went raving loony for this on her first lick, and I have to agree. She promised me that if I could make a pumpkin pie that tasted like this, she'd be a convert...so I'm working on it.

              2. Definitely Thrifty's. Carvel is actually an east coast thing (we only got it out here recently) and Penguin is frozen yogurt. Thrifty's has bee around forever and tastes so good. Also, still has an old fashioned price!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Newkie

                  Carvel is hardly a "recent" addition. I can remember the hokey old Carvel commercials from when I was a kid. There was a Carvel in Sherman Oaks that I used to visit back then. It's probably been gone for almost 20 years.

                2. COOL-A-COO ice cream sandwiches (@ Dodger Stadium)

                  Filed for bankruptcy a while back.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    My favorite at Dodger's stadium was the Carnation Malts... Yumm...

                    As for my favorite SO Cal Ice Cream Treat. Coconut Paletas de Leche from Paletero... :)

                    --Dommy!

                    1. re: Dommy

                      Oh, this sounds so yummy, want to run out right now, but where or where?

                      1. re: Jesdamala

                        Back when I was a kid there was one brand all the Paletero had.. I think it was called Mary. Be sure you ask for De Leche (Which means Ice Cream) the ones most have now are made of water... bah!!

                        --Dommy!

                        1. re: Dommy

                          It WAS called Marys. I always got the leche version, too. But I was a fan of the nuez (with a pecan, I believe), even though the coco was very good and it came with a date embedded at the top.

                  2. Fosselmans is the first one that comes to mind. Go to the store in alhambra. I like Mitchells but I hate to say that some of the mitchells flavors are so full of fat that i feel like I'm eating a flavored stick of butter. I had some mango once that was really mango butter which wasn't as good as it sounds. That said, I have to admit I did really enjoy the grasshopper pie when I was at Mitchells a month ago. Fosselmans is also cheaper than Mitchels IIRC.

                    Also, there's that one Dr Bob's Handcrafted Ice cream but i've only had their pints at Gelsons whch didn't travel well so I have no idea how good they can be. I heard they can be really good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: choctastic

                      I just had Dr. Bob's at the LA Fair (see my review). It was pretty good. I had a double of dark chocolate and rasberry cabernet sorbet. I still like Fosselman's better, but the ras cab was pretty good. I thought Fosselman's had a bit more butter content than Dr. Bob's although I've read otherwise on some other posts here.

                    2. Bob's Big Boy's hot fudge sundae. Mmmmmmm that was good (haven't had one in years). I know they're not located only in SoCal, but they got their start here.

                      Fosselman's and Thrifty's for sure. There used to be a Fosselman's on Figueroa in Highland Park, we used to go there all the time, there was this really nice guy who worked there until they alas closed. Many years later, I went to the Alhambra location, and there he was!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: slacker

                        Also, when I was in high school Bob's made an extra thick milk shake (or malt?) that was so thick the long spoon would stand straight up in it by itself. My friend Linda and I used to sit in our cars (for car service) and eat these (you couldn't drink them obviously) after our regular double cheeseburgers with avocado and chili, hold the tomato, and our onion rings extra well and we thought we were super cool!

                        1. re: ThatPat

                          I just looked at the Bob's (Big Boy natch) menu, and it looks like they still have the extra thick shakes and malts. I haven't been there in years (the one on Riverside Drive in Burbank was my local). Who knew!

                          1. re: ThatPat

                            Bob's Big Boy shakes aren't the same as they used to be - like soft serve in those metal goblets - yum. No more. The shakes are not worth the calories now, but we still go to the Bob's on Riverside Drive for Big Boy burgers.

                            When I was a kid the ice cream at Thrifty was a nickel a scoop and I'm pretty sure the scoops were square. Still love the chocolate chip but my local Rite-Aid is often out of that flavor for hand-scooping although you can buy it in a box in the freezer section.

                            1. re: Debbie W

                              The original Thrifty's scoops were cylindrical in shape - not square.

                              If they were square, that would've been totally cool. Could you imagine licking a square chunk of chocolate chip? What a sight!

                              1. re: Debbie W

                                Wow, I totally forgot about those silver goblet chocolate shakes. Those were amazing!!! Bring em back!

                            2. re: ThatPat

                              Oh yeah! MMmmm those thick milk shakes, and they give you the metal blending cup too since it can't all fit in the tall glass!

                            1. re: Jerome

                              All I remember about WW, my grandma's fav ice cream, is the location on Beverly Dr. a SE corner S of Wilshire Bl. and the pink and white color scheme. Frequent celebs that lived in the area. Granny liked the coffee and some kind of mint candy flavor. It's been gone for so many decades that comparisons to current favs are impossible!

                            2. isn't it still kind of square at the rite aids that is actually thrifty ice cream, coconut pineapple is still my fave there, although now that i've tried good gelato and super premium ice cream joints, thrifty's alas, will never be the same. also, it was a lot better deal back when it was a quarter for a scoop rather than the 99cents they charge now in most locales in la.

                              recently tried the toasted pecan shake at lucky devil's and it was in fact very good, and pretty thick, had to eat it with the spoon intstead of a straw, but beware the 900 calories a serving and 40 grams of fat.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: kevin

                                I guess i can pat myself on the back and tell myself that i am still relatively young because i remember when they were a quarter a scoop and the scoops were definitely round because they fit perfectly on the cones.

                                I had some thrifty's ice cream recently in irvine and it sure didn't taste like i remembered. but then i had it again in the fullteron rite aid/thrifys (choco malted crunch flavor both times) and it was much better, but i'm not sure it was as good as when I was a kid. tasted almost as good as my memory but I don't have a photographic memory.

                                1. re: choctastic

                                  I like that choco malted crunch flavor, that's what I get if they're out of chocolate chip.

                                  I could swear the scoops were square but I'm talking about the late 1960's/early 1970's and that's a long time ago so I might be wrong. But I'm pretty sure it was a nickel a scoop. The amount in a scoop is bigger now, a single is usually enough for me.

                                  1. re: Debbie W

                                    hmm, i'm remembering from mid to late 70's in the orange county area. I actually think the scoops look the same as when i was a kid during the 25 cent scoop days but i guess i could be wrong. Chocolate malted crunch was one of my faves when I was a kid. I also liked a combo of chocolate and mint chocolate chip.

                                    Oh yeah also, i forgot about Han's Ice cream in Costa Mesa (if god forbid you have to come down to the OC). they make their own ice cream and it has a sitdown area with booths and good sundaes. try the chewy chocolate.

                                  2. re: choctastic

                                    I can actually recall cylinder shapes. This was the late 90s.

                                2. Thrifty Ice Cream is $1.69 a half gallon this week.

                                  I'm thinking of buying a half gallon of pistachio, melting away the "cream", and being left with $3 worth of nuts. Hmmmm....

                                  1. Definitely Thrifty's (Rite Aid) and Fosselman's. I think the Thrifty's ice cream plant is still there in El Monte off the 10 Freeway.

                                    1. The late Soda Jerks in Pasadena offered Fosselman's, and huge sundaes and malts. I love Fosselman's.

                                      Has anyone been to the Fair Oaks Soda Fountain? I pass by all the time, but nothing has compelled me to go! Thoughts?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: chica

                                        Last time I went to Fair Oaks Pharmacy Soda Fountain I found out that they don't serve Fosselman's Ice Cream. It was Golden________ Brand. My kids and I had hot fudge sundaes which were ok but nothing special. The location in a real pharmacy with antique soda fountain IS great and deserves a GREAT product!

                                      2. Here's my gripe about Thrifty Ice Cream after the hegemonic takeover by the colonial East Coast operation known as Rite Aid...

                                        Back in the Thrifty Days, if you wanted ice cream, you went up to the counter, asked for your flavor(s), got your ice cream and paid the person at the ice cream counter.

                                        Now, thanks to East Coast corporate wisdom, you get your ice cream, THEN you have to go into the regular checkout line and pay for the dang thing. By then it's either melted already or if it's a hot enough summer day, already consumed. Are they too lazy to collect your money at the ice cream counter? Someone please explain this logic.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                          I've paid for Rite-aid ice cream at the ice cream counter before..I suppose it depends on where your local Rite-aid is located.

                                          1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                            You're right, it's lame, especially because the lines at Rite-Aid move sloooooowly, causing you to eat your ice cream in line instead of in the parking lot.

                                            1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                              you are absolutely on about that. what's the deal with that? way inconvenient, esp, when you have to wiat in a long ass checkstand line.

                                              1. re: kevin

                                                I got an idea that would likely make them change back the the more sensible pay-at-the-icecream-counter ways! Next time you get your THRIFTY ice cream at Rite-Aid, and they make you pay at the checkout counter, eat your ice cream...and walk around the store :)
                                                VOILA! Free ice cream!
                                                Hopefully they'll realize how much of an inconvenience this is and start charging at the ice cream counter again.

                                            2. pazzo gelato on sunset and hyperion.

                                              it's got gelato in the name, but it's really ice cream. and really, really good ice cream.

                                              1. While its not my absolute favorite, Fosselmans is definitely the place fitting your description. Its an L.A. classic thats been around forever, and everyone knows it and will make a trip to go, but it has never expanded beyond the city.

                                                1. You know what, I have been to the Fair Oaks Soda Fountain---but I only had a sandwich. Its quite busy! And they sell lots of do-dads. I'll have to get a shake or something sometime.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: running pig

                                                    Fair Oaks Pharmacy (I believe this is the one you're talking about...on the corner of Fair Oaks and Mission) serves pretty decent natural casing hot dogs too, which are all to rare in this "other" valley. They also mix their sodas the old fashioned way, i.e., Coca-Cola syrup and carbonated water out of the spigot. Have yet to try the ice cream, I think it's Carnation or Dryers, not Fosselman's though.

                                                    1. re: heckonwheels

                                                      Fair Oaks Pharmacy has the BEST malt milkshakes...

                                                      1. re: huerokid

                                                        I haven't had FOP in a while, but I do remember they had good shakes. It's one of those old school places where you'd expect some old guy behind the counter fixing you up one. 'Course, I'm too young to have experienced any of that...haha

                                                  2. living in sgv in the 70's i have several fond food memories - once a month, i would get my sgv tribune paper route pay ( and of course the tips during the holidays ! ) and indulge - each day for a week i would have a special treat - i distinctly remember my 15 cent triple scoop from thrifty - some of my favs - the standard, choc chip, pistachio / cashew was amazing and then the ultimate - banana split, i also loved the seasonal flavors - the best, pumpkin ( do they still make it ? )

                                                    btw - the other treat i still remember and miss - the helms bakery truck - i can't remeber if it was like an ice cream truck driving up the street everyday or it had specific days for my neighborhood, but when they would open the back door and then pull out those drawers out showing rows of beautiful baked goods - my fav - the cream puff !! does anyone remember what kind of vehicle that was - i don't think it was a suburban ...damn...i remember the cream puff but i'll be damned if i remember the truck...also, cannot rememeber how much the cream puff cost me...oh well....

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: kjs

                                                      My mom still talks about the nut chews from the Helms truck :-)
                                                      She says it was a cart, with all these shelves the Helms man would pull out! WOW!

                                                    2. http://www.dphoto.us/forumphotos/data...

                                                      Sorry I don't know how to code this properly, but follow the link for a vintage Helms bread truck!

                                                      1. Scoops! Definitely Scoops on Heliotrope and Melrose. The brown bread is a guaranteed winner and everything else is a wonderful gamble.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Mollusk

                                                          yes! scoops! I can't believe it's only been mentioned once. brown bread is very good, but for me it has to be the horchata. also, the man has enough love for the trade to be there more than 10 hours, 6 days a week.

                                                        2. My favorite ice cream treat is Big Olaf's waffle cone on Catalina. The sweet scent of the waffles wafting along the strand is a memory I carry with me when I leave the island.

                                                          1. Step aside all ice cream joints....the new guy in town is GLACIER ICE CREAM from Boulder Colorado, and they'll be opening a shop in Manhattan Beach in a few months. BEST OF THE BEST, can't wait for you all to try it!!!

                                                            1. Thrifty's was 5 cents a scoop, 3 scoops for 15 cents(!) in the early '70's. There were lots of fans of Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor then too and into the '80's. They had something on the menu called "the pigs trough" which was like a HUGE banana split and "the birthday bucket" which was 30 or 40 scoops of ice cream in a sliver bucket. Anyone who could eat an entire birthday bucket or a pigs trough got it for free. They also sold gigantic suckers and multicolored candy that they kept in really tall and fat clear glass jars behind the counter that you had to walk past on the way out of the store. A lot of the waiters had handlebar mustaches and I think their uniform was red and white striped shirts. Tons of fun!

                                                              1. Who of us never had "The Pig's Trough" or "The Zoo" at Farrell's? A fav of the times!