31 Flavors From Tacoma

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! 

If you were lucky enough to go to an ice cream shop in the early 1900s, your choices would have been limited to vanilla, chocolate, and Strawberry. But a young man from Tacoma with a passion for ice cream and an inventive flair would soon change all of that.  What would arguably became one of the best known names in the ice cream business, Baskin Robbins, all began in Tacoma at a small downtown ice cream parlor called The Olympic Store. 

Photo Courtesy: KCET Food & Living

The Olympic Store was “a nice place to rest and relax, and some downtown workers brought their sack lunches and ate there, buying a Coke, small bottle of milk, or dish of ice cream,” according to Jack Sundquist in Murray Morgan’s Tacoma: Voices of the Past Volume One. The local shop was located at 954 Court C and was run by a man named Aaron Robbins. 

Irvine Robbins, the Robbins of Baskin Robbins, was Aaron’s son and fellow ice cream enthusiast. From the age of 14 Iry helped his dad put smiles on customers’ faces by whipping up cherry topped sundaes, and bubbling ice cream floats. From the very beginning, Iry said that he always finished a days work at The Olympic Store very happy and knew that’s how he wanted it to be when he started his own business. 

Iry graduated from Stadium High School in 1935 and stayed in Tacoma to attend the University of Puget Sound. Iry later transfered to the University of Washington where he graduated with a degree in political science in 1939. Eventually Iry made his way down to Glendale, California were he started his first ice cream shop called Snowbird Ice Cream. When Snowbird Ice Cream started to open additional shops throughout LA, Iry made the decision to began his life long business partnership with his brother in law, Burt Baskin. 

Photo Courtesy: KCET Food & Living

With the merging of their businesses and the creation on their 31st flavor, chocolate mint, Iry and Burt created one of the sweetest marketing campaigns in history. At Baskin Robbins you could suddenly choose a different flavor of ice cream every day of the month!  The company took off quickly, and successfully, and by the mid 1960s Baskin Robbins had over 400 shops around the US. Today Baskin Robbins can be found in numerous countries from around the world and has grown to offer over 1,300 flavors of ice cream!

3 thoughts on “31 Flavors From Tacoma

  1. Thank you for sharing!!! My moms family had a business on Court C between 11th & 13th called Capital Cleaners. My mom talked about walking about 1 block to get ice cream when she was younger. Thanks to your article I’ve put the pieces together!

    If anyone has stories about Capital Cleaners I would like to hear them!


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