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In this episode number “31”of the Dandy Fun House… how in the world could I help but tell the story of two brothers-in-law with a post World War II entrepreneurial spirit and how they joined forces to combine business ambition with their passion for all things ICE CREAM!
Together they built nothing short of a worldwide ice cream institution. For THIS is the Ballad of BASKIN ROBBINS! Let’s step into the fun house!

dandy fun house logo

Hello and welcome to the Dandy Fun House video show, podcast and blog! This is where we talk about Retro Pop Culture, Toys, Games and All the Fun Stuff! I’m your host Neil Dandy… but before we get into it here, I have some sad news to share.

neil dandy with picture of emma-lou the dandy dog

EMMA-LOU The Dandy Dog 2009-2023

You may remember Emma-Lou the Dandy Dog who appeared in our episode about the game SOGGY DOGGY and also hosted our episode counting down the Top Ten Dog Friendly Attractions in America. On Wednesday, June 14th, 2023 around 4:30pm, Emma-Lou passed through that great doggy door in the sky after 14 wonderful years of hugs, kisses, doggy parks, noses out the car window, interstate travel and being the very best friend a doggy daddy could ever ask for. If you’re fortunate enough to have an amazing dog, cat, guinea pig, parrot, donkey or just love animals in general, give yours an extra hug today and tell them it’s from Emma-Lou the Dandy Dog. She would have liked that. Now on with the show!

neil dandy with picture of burt baskin and irv robbins

neil dandy with picture of burt baskin

Burt Baskin

neil dandy with picture of burton's ice cream shop

neil dandy with picture of irv robbins

Irv Robbins

neil dandy with picture of snowbird ice cream shop

Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were brothers-in-law with competing ice cream shops in Glendale California post-World War II. 1945 to be exact. Burt had been a Navy Lieutenant who honed his ice cream making skills at sea for his fellow troops. His shop was called Burton’s Ice Cream. Irv worked in his father’s ice cream shop as a teenager and had developed a passion for the confection at a young age. Irv’s shop was called Snowbird Ice Cream. Burt only sold 10 flavors while Irv sold 21. After a few years of fledgling success, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins decided to combine their talents. But they still kept their brand names separate. They just offered the same products and used their strengths to mutually advance business. Within just a couple of years, the ambitious brothers-in-law had opened 6 locations of Burt’s and also Snowbird Ice Cream with no sign of stopping!

As the company grew past their abilities to personally oversee each store, the pair made the brilliant move of offering their locations for sale as franchises to their store managers which enabled them to strap rockets onto their expansion plans! By giving ownership opportunities to their managers, this helped maintain quality standards since the managers had a stake in the success of the stores. This was the very first time a chain of ice cream shops had ever been franchised!

In 1949 Burt and Irv purchased their first dairy located in Burbank, California which was right next to their headquarters in Glendale. This allowed them to have complete quality control over production and assisted with development of new flavors.

neil dandy with graphic logo of carson roberts advertising agencyneil dandy with classic baskin robbins logo

They continued their streak of smart business moves when in 1953 they employed the consulting services of Carson-Roberts Advertising agency who made the now obvious decision that the two individual ice cream brands should lose their separate identities and become one delicious tour-de-force under the name BASKIN ROBBINS. They also implemented the colors of pink to invoke cherries and brown to hearken thoughts of chocolate, sprinkling in polka dots to remind people of the circus. They also decided they should build upon the number 31 which was the total number of combined flavors at the inception of Burt and Irv’s merging.

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The ad agency felt that a person having the option of a different flavor for every day of the month would be a great marketing position. Baskin Robbins has since introduced over 1300 flavors.

The following year in 1954, Baskin Robbins began competing against other ice cream makers at State and County Fairs across America racking up gold medals and blue ribbons earning them a grassroots reputation for quality with their unique flavor-ribboning technique.

neil dandy with picture of ice cream cakeneil dandy with picture of ice cream cake showing inner ingredientsneil dandy with picture of ice cream cake with writingneil dandy with picture of a photocake

Then in 1962 Baskin Robbins invented and introduced the iconic ICE CREAM CAKE which they have become synonymous with over the decades. In case you’ve been living under the Rocky Road and aren’t familiar with ice cream cakes, they basically consist of three components: white or chocolate cake, choice of ice cream flavor and frosting. You can even put a customized message on the cake. And in 2019, they introduced the PhotoCake where an actual custom photograph can be printed directly onto the cake with edible ink! Now THAT is really something!

Did you know that Baskin Robbins had to come up with special recipes for the add-ins in their ice creams that would be freeze-resistant!? That’s right! Gumdrops, peanut butter, chocolate chips and bubble gum if created using traditional methods would turn into hard chunks dangerous to your dental health. So through lots of experimentation and top secret formulating, Baskin Robbins came up with special ways to keep ingredients maleable and making four out of five dentists… highly disappointed.

neil dandy with graphic image showing baskin robbins USA locationsneil dandy with united fruit logoneil dandy with world map showing baskin robbins international locations

By the mid 1960’s Baskin Robbins had grown to over 400 stores across America leading to their acquisition in 1967 by United Fruit (just prior to Burt Baskin’s passing that very December). United Fruit took the ice cream chain international expanding into Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

neil dandy with a picture of a scoop of pralines and cream ice creamneil dandy with picture of irv robbins holding an ice cream scoop

In the 1970’s Baskin Robbins found themselves with a creamy crisis on their hands! Husband and wife Irv and Irma Robbins were experimenting in their home kitchen and together created the flavor Pralines and Cream which eventually became their most popular international flavor! Yes, 35 years into the company, founding family members were still very much hands-on!

neil dandy in front of a wall of flameneil dandy with a petition formneil dandy with a picture of dear abby

UNFORTUNATELY when Pralines and Cream was first introduced, it was only a limited-run item but it caught on like wildfire. They could never have imagined the demand the public would instantly have for this flavor and it caused a bit of a national crisis once it ran out. They started recieving petitions, students in Santa Barbara actually picketed outside Baskin Robbins stores and even Dear Abby piled on pleading for the return of Pralines and Cream!

The company had no choice but to fire up a special production run to satisfy the insatiable throngs of Pralines and Cream junkies and the flavor has been a mainstay ever since.

Baskin Robbins as a practice actually made it part of their business model to come up with hundreds of new flavors each year at their Burbank dairy. But out of those, less than ten would be chosen annually for public release. And the blooper reel is pretty interesting including failed flavors such as Lox and Bagels, avocado, garlic, azuki bean, jalapeno, pumpkin and even ketchup!

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Did you know that out of all Baskin Robbins flavors, only TWO of them are not kosher!? For those who faithfully follow Judaism, as long as you’re not ordering Rocky Road or Pink Bubble Gum there’s no need to get your yarmulke in a yank! You’re all good!

neil dandy with 1990's baskin robbins logoneil dandy with 2006 baskin robbins logo

In 1991 it came time for a brand refresh and an updated logo was top of the agenda. Colors were changed to pink and blue and the number 31 (in pink) was placed beside the company name (in blue). The logo remained this way until 2006 when they modernized the fonts with an edgier look and then embedded the number 31 into the initials BR.

neil dandy with 2022 baskin robbins logo
There’s an even newer logo introduced in 2022 which appears to harken back to the early days with a more classic font and the return of pink and brown for their colors and still has the number 31 embedded in the initials. They even have a new slogan… “Seize the Yay.”

neil dandy with dunkin donuts and baskin robbins logos

Let’s briefly rewind to the 80’s and 90’s when expansions continued at a rapid-fire pace and the brand was acquired over and over throughout the years eventually combining with Dunkin Donuts in 1994.

neil dandy with a picture of a polar pizza

It was during this time that the Polar Pizza was introduced. A disc of ice cream that comes in a pizza box and you eat it just like a pizza! To this day, you can still order a Polar Pizza in Oreo, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Cookie Dough and Mint Chip. Or you can order it customized and even have it delivered to your door!

neil dandy with picture of ice cream scoop pyramid being constructedneil dandy with picture of a boulder of vanilla ice cream

Did you know that Baskin Robbins holds not one but TWO world’s records!? The first was obtained on May 18th, 2000 when they created the world’s largest ice cream scoop pyramid with 3100 scoops of ice cream. The second was accomplished on September 13th, 2005 in honor of Baskin Robbins’ 60th birthday when they created the world’s largest cup of ice cream with a boulder of vanilla weighing in at 8865 pounds!

In 2014 Baskin Robbins stretched their reach once again, this time into supermarkets and also began offering delivery via DoorDash.

Today Baskin Robbins is the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty stores with over 5800 worldwide locations! To this day each location is still franchised with a local owner who holds a stake in the success of the store.

neil dandy with baskin robbins logo

And that’s the scoop on all things BASKIN ROBBINS! I hope you enjoyed learning about this amazing institution of frosty fun as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you!

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OK, I gotta make like a banana and split! Be sure to come back soon right here to the Dandy Fun House where everything is always… FUN AND DANDY!

PS – BASKIN ROBBINS if you’re listening, I just want you to know that every single day of the year is… MY BIRTHDAY!

neil dandy with baskin robbins logo and motioning to himself

Neil Dandy is the creator of The Dandy Fun House and the alter-ego of Neil Smith, the Big Cheese at Neil Smith Entertainment and Productions, musician, DJ, Emcee and author. Aren’t you impressed?