My It’s-IT Story

It's-It Ice Cream Sandwiches

It’s-It Ice Cream Sandwiches

I thought I would share a story about a very special ice cream sandwich.

As you well know, I grew up a military brat. I lived all over the country and all over the world, which meant that we didn’t see our extended family, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, very often. So as you can imagine, trips to see my grandparents were pretty special. First, we were going to California, which has always been viewed by many as a magical place, and secondly, because it would mean unique treats like Sees Candies, The Pop Shoppe and It’s-IT ice cream sandwiches.

It's-It Boxes

It’s-IT were my grandmother’s absolute favorite ice cream treat and to this day whenever I see an It’s-IT delivery truck on the road, I think of her. Given that It’s-IT is based in the Bay Area, I see the trucks all the time and I am grateful for the weekly reminder of a truly fantastic woman.

It's-It Truck

There is nothing better as a child than to sit down with your grandparents with delicious ice cream treat, telling stories, sharing dreams and enjoying the moment.

You might now wonder…what the heck is an It’s-IT??!!  Well, it’s a delicious ice cream sandwich made with vanilla ice cream, oatmeal cookie and dipped in chocolate.  When people first tasted it people declared it to be IT the end all be all of ice cream sandwiches!

It-IT ice cream sandwich

Photo credit: Thrillist

I just spent the weekend in Bend, Oregon at a family reunion on my mother’s side.  And while it is always fun to see family (we do the reunion once every five years), I really do miss my grandma and her brothers and sisters, whose presence made any outing an event.

I told them I was writing this post about their mother’s favorite ice cream and I asked my aunts and uncles about their It’s-IT memories. One of my aunts is an antique collector (she even has a store in historic Crockett) and is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to Bay Area history.  She associated It’s-IT with a standalone food stand outside of Playland-at-the-Beach in San Francisco.

Playland-at-the-Beach-Its-IT-stand

It’s-IT Stand, photo credit: Outsidelands.org

My grandparents used to take my mother and her siblings to Playland-at-the-Beach for a weekend outing.  My grandparents didn’t have a lot of money, but they definitely created lots of adventures for their children with summer vacations at Lake Berryessa, RV trips and outings to the city (San Francisco).

Playland-at-the-Beach-Poster

Playland-at-the-Beach was an amusement park at Ocean Beach a little ways down from the Cliffhouse. It was two blocks long and fashioned after a boardwalk with independently owned concessions. One of those concession stands was the Whitney Brother’s “This is IT” where they served hot dogs and hamburgers along with the now-famous ice cream sandwiches made by hand on the spot then dipped in chocolate.

Its-IT-stand-Jeff-Koening-1969

It’s IT stand (1969) Photo credit: Jeff Koening

Playland-at-the-Beach closed on a Friday in 1972 and was set to be demolished on Monday. Throughout the weekend locals raided the site for souvenirs, pieces of the park and of San Francisco’s history. A group of people, lead by Richard Tuck, pulled together the mementoes and souvenirs and created a museum in El Cerrito, California called “Playland-Not-at-the-Beach.” You can photos and artifacts of It’s-IT there.

The ONLY place to get It’s-IT was Playland-at-the-Beach, so once it closed there was no place to get this amazing ice cream sandwich.  That was a definite problem.

Thankfully in 1974, It’s-IT opened a small shop in SoMa.  But their popularity soon forced them to find a bigger locations and they eventually moved to their current location in Burlingame (where you can visit their store!).

Its-IT-Factory

Photo credit: Ariel Zambelich for The Wall Street Journal

What made this treat so special?

It was scarce. I could only have it when I visited my grandparents.

Now that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can have one anytime I want! And each and every time it is special because of the memories associated with it.

Its-It ice cream Sandwiches

But guess what? It’s-IT is distributed in many other states (check out their website for a list of locations), so YOU have the opportunity to try this iconic ice cream sandwich. There are so many choices in the freezer aisle, but there are a few things you should know about It’s-IT.

They are family owned and run.

When It’s-IT reached out to me to offer some of their treats for sampling, I first confessed that I already knew and loved It’s-IT so I wouldn’t really be “sampling.” They said that was okay because they bet I hadn’t tried any of their new flavors, which of course I had not because I love the classic. So I accepted their gracious offer and asked them to deliver them to my office because there was no way I could eat a dozen ice cream sandwiches on my own.

Even though I tried!

It's-IT-Andi

When the day of a delivery arrived, who should be there handing me over my own little slice of heaven but the grandson of the family that has been running It’s-IT since it left Playland-at-the-Beach. I told him how much my grandmother loved It’s-IT and how much I appreciated that a member of the original family came to meet me.

Family is important, how many other ice cream makers are still family-owned and run? That is one reason why you should consider seeking out and trying one of these babies.

The other? Really great ingredients.

Fresh creamy ice cream. Secret recipe oatmeal cookie. Chocolate.

It's-IT

Photo credit: Ariel Zambelich for The Wall Street Journal

I collected my hand-delivered ice cream up to my office, cut up the sandwiches so that my colleagues and I could share them and we went to town trying the new flavors: chocolate, strawberry, cappuccino, mint and pumpkin, along with the classic vanilla. Half of my co-workers knew of It’s-IT and gladly participated and the other half, mainly the ones from places like New York, had not heard of it and are now super fans. In fact, one of my colleagues can’t stop talking about it and is now a pumpkin It’s-IT addict!

Food plays such an important role in my life. There are memories weaved into all my food experiences. I like that when I see an It’s-IT ice cream truck I think of my grandmother, it means that on a weekly basis I am reminded of all the good times I had with her prior to her departure. Sad to say, I don’t know if I would do that as often if it weren’t for It’s-IT.

Thank you It’s-IT for sending me over a little slice of heaven.

How about you? Do you food memories associated with your grandparents?

You can find locations for purchasing It’s-IT ice cream sandwiches on their website, you can also order online!

[Disclosure: I received a dozen complimentary It’s-IT ice cream sandwiches, but as always all opinions are my own.  I love these ice cream sandwiches!]

See my entire collection of San Francisco post in my San Francisco Guide. Also you can save 42% off admission to the best San Francisco attractions with a San Francisco CityPASS. PLUS, skip most tickets lines!

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It’s-IT ice cream sandwich

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About Andi Fisher

I'm a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. I love to travel via my stomach eating and seeking out local artisans to feature here. I'm a big supporter of the blogging community and love highlighting travel and food bloggers for you to meet.

Comments

  1. Looks yummy it’s ice cream never heard of it but would love to try ..I am going to look to see it this company is located in Atlanta, GA.

  2. Happy National Ice Cream Day! Phew, you can’t argue with today, we already celebrated outside with ice cream sandwiches!

  3. I absolutely LOVE ice cream sammies…and the more creative the better. Love hearing about new brands to try, especially when they have great flavor combos like these. Thanks!

  4. Your ice cream sandwich looks really good. This sounds like a holiday that I definitely need to be celebrating.

  5. Your ice cream looks so delicious! Great for holiday and perfect for dessert it can be a snack also. I really want to try it now I’m craving this! My family would surely like it especially my son. Ice cream is one of his favorites!

  6. So I read through (and totally loved) everything about this post — the SF history, the nostalgic ties to food and family, and of course my mouth was watering by the end because I now HAVE to try one of these sandwiches. But they don’t have them here in the southeast! (Where I sincerely think people would go crazy for them.) Maybe I’ll be able to find one to try when I’m in upstate New York for a wedding in October!
    I always associate homemade pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting with one of my grandmas, and a can of Coors light with the other. They’re as different as night and day, but I love them both dearly. 🙂

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Katie, they are available by mail order, so if you should want to cool off from the 100 degree, humidity driven weather your having, get a box online!

  7. National Ice Cream Sandwich day is a thing?? Well, guess I’m glad I bought some the other day! 😉

  8. Elizabeth O. says:

    That looks delicious. I have never tried this brand of ice cream, but they look really good. Your post reminds me a lot of my childhood.

  9. I could go for an ice cream sandwich about now. Those just go perfectly with summer, I do declare. 🙂

  10. My strongest memories are associated with food. I’m only sorry I haven’t (yet) had an It’s IT ice cream sandwich. It looks like some winning players involved from the people behind it to the ingredients they’re using. I can see how you’d develop strong feelings for this ice cream sandwich. Look forward to trying!

  11. Another great way to enjoy ice cream. Ice cream sandwiches are a welcome treat in the summer or any season when you just want to have a “feel good” time. Wishing you a happy national ice cream sandwich day!

  12. Kristen says:

    I would love to try this ice cream. I have not seen an ice cream truck in FOREVER. I should find one soon, I don’t think my kids know they exist.

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Kristen, I just heard one in a neighborhood in LA two weeks ago and it took me a minute to realize what the noise was! They are few and far between these days!

  13. Such a cute pic, Andi. I love that blue ice cream sandwich!

  14. i still need to try these! i’ve seen them countless times in passing. 🙂 there’s a new ice cream sandwich fad going on in LA with funnel cake outside. 🙂

  15. On my last trip to San Francisco my BFF and I made a special mission to try an It’s-IT. We were not disappointed! What a lovely story of your family memories of this sweet treat. Looking forward to trying some of the new flavours someday when I am back in It’s-IT territory. Cappuccino sounds divine. Of course the museum also sounds irresistible.

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Steph, so glad you were able to to enjoy it! I tried the cappuccino and it was delicious! I would have never but coffee flavor and oatmeal flavor together, but it works brilliantly!

  16. These look amazing! I am jealous that I live no where near the locations. However, I know now my first stop on my visit next summer!

  17. These sound delicious! I will check if I can find them near me. I used to (and still) make my own ice cream in my ice cream maker. One of my favorite flavors was tutti frutti and I also make them in popsicles.

    • Andi Fisher says:

      @Shannon, oh goodness! Homemade ice cream is such a luxury. My parents went through an ice cream phase when I was a kid, but I haven’t had it since!

  18. Nicole Carter says:

    Wow! I never heard of this company before! Their sandwiches look amazing! I wish I lived in that area so I can try it! Yum yum!

  19. Amber Ludwig says:

    Omgosh do I need this!! Totally ordering asap!! Yum yum yum!! Im just dying for one now lol!!

  20. alicia szemon says:

    i didn’t know there was an ice cream sandwich day but that is awesome!

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