You might be surprised to learn that the invention of ice cream outdates America itself; according to the International Dairy Foods Association, people have been eating ice cream as early as the second century B.C., and both Alexander the Great and Nero Claudius Caesar frequently flavored snow and ice with fruits, juices, and honey. In the United States, advertisements for ice cream were appearing in newspapers as early as 1777, and retail receipts and records show that President George Washington spent upwards of $200 on ice cream during the summer of 1790—can you blame him?
It's clear that ice cream has long been cherished as a delicious way to cool down during the summer, and there are some establishments that dish out this sweet treat each and every season—over the last century and a half! In our minds, ice cream shops that have been in business for more than a century deserve historic-landmark status. In that spirit, we're sharing a handful of cherished locations where Americans have been happily enjoying dessert for well over 100 years, and why each destination has been successful for so long.
Nestled in the heart of the suburbs surrounding Oakland, California, the local standout Fentons churns milk from nearby Californian farms into nearly every flavor imaginable, including the sublime strawberry swirl, which is pictured above. According to staff, the "black and tan" sundae is the shop's signature offering—and the shop has sold more than three million since it first opened. Fentons is celebrating its 125th birthday this year.
Bassets Ice Cream
Opening more than 158 years ago, Bassetts is America's oldest ice cream brand—it's been serving ice cream from the same marble countertop in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market since 1893. You can choose from fan favorites like salted-caramel pretzel and butter pecan. The shop has been run by five generations of the same family.
Doumar's Cones and Barbecue
According to this Norfolk, Virginia, restaurant's team, Doumar's was once a chain franchise with locations from Florida up to Coney Island. They also claim the distinct honor of having invented the waffle cone, and have been hand-rolling them since 1904. You can pull up for carside service and order from a handful of flavors that were first served at the Saint Louis Exposition in 1904, including butter pecan, lime sherbet, and orange sherbet.
You can still try the first flavor of ice cream offered at Angelo Brocato in 1905: torroncino, a vanilla base blended with ground almonds and cinnamon. Located just Northwest of New Orleans' French Quarter, locals also love to order granitas on steamy summer afternoons; lemon, lime, blackberry, blood orange, and mango flavors are served, just to name a few.
Petersen's Ice Cream
First opening as a full-service restaurant in 1919, the restaurant portion of Petersen's has since closed, but the iconic Chicago storefront has flourished in the dessert space alone. Loyal customers rave about Petersen's hot-fudge sundaes and milkshakes, but you can enjoy simple scoops of ice cream made with 18 percent butterfat and mixtures of fresh fruits and nuts, too.