Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Baskin-Robbins, an American chain of ice cream shops, was the brainchild of brothers-in-law Burton “Burt” Baskin and Irvine “Irv” Robbins. Today, every ice cream shop in the United States seems to churn out a host of exotic flavors, from olive oil and lavender to honey jalapeño and sweet corn. But when Baskin-Robbins was launched in the early 1950s, its notion of serving 31 flavors was novel.

Burt and Irv had started out as small-time ice cream shop owners with separate businesses in Southern California. In 1945 Robbins opened Snowbird Ice Cream in Glendale, California, where he offered 21 flavors. A year later Baskin opened Burton’s Ice Cream Shop in Pasadena. By 1948 the two ice cream entrepreneurs boasted half a dozen shops in Southern California. A year later the number had jumped to more than 40. In 1953 the brothers-in-law took a leap and joined forces to create Baskin-Robbins, which became the international ice cream juggernaut we know today. They also began to franchise their operation.