You know the adorable scene in Pixar’s Up where Mr. Fredricksen, Russell & Dug are having a tasty treat sitting on the curb of an ice cream shop? Well guess what? That ice cream shop is a real place!
On a recent trip to San Francisco, our good friends took us to a very special place in Oakland, California: Fentons Creamery.
Around since 1894, E.S. Fenton began his business delivering dairy products from a horse drawn wagon. Twenty-eight years later in 1922, the Fenton family opened their first soda shop and ice cream parlor. Fast forward to 2009 and they’ve got Pixar featuring them in their double Academy Award winning feature film, Up. Until our visit, I had no idea that Fentons was a “real” place.
Our visit to Fentons took place on a Sunday night. We didn’t even arrive until after 8:00 pm. In fact, on the way there, I was wondering if our friends had even checked the hours, because what ice cream shop would be open at 8:00 pm on a Sunday evening? Well, little did we know, because not only was Fentons open, but every table was full and there was a line out the door. We got in that out-the-door line, put our names on the wait list, and about 20 minutes later, we were seated.
During our wait, I took a moment to walk around and check the place out. The first thing I noticed was the friendly vibe; everywhere I looked was a smiling person eating a tasty treat. The tables, chairs and decor were all simple yet inviting. Very clean and tasteful in design.
We got extremely lucky as they opened the back room for extra seating just as we arrived. We were able to sit away from the close quarters of the main dining area. Little did they know, we were bringing our own chaos. Between the 5 kids ages 8 months-9 years, 4 adults, and me snapping a million photos, it’s probably a good thing that we were stuck in the back corner of the back room!
There was an immaculate kitchen where homemade ice cream was being created. Fresh ingredients including marshmallows, crushed Oreo cookies, and gum balls lined the counters. Fentons makes small, 10-gallon batches of fresh ice cream on a daily basis. They work closely with their dairy providers and use the highest quality ingredients available. Local ingredients, including toasted almonds, are also used as much as possible.
It was like organized chaos. Servers were taking orders, relaying those orders to the talented ice cream chefs, who then turned out magical creations that in turn ended up in front of a happy customer.
After perusing the menu, I decided on the “special” of the month. A Snickerdoodle Sundae. Not only do I love Snickerdoodles, but I also love the story behind Fentons monthly specials: Every month a special sundae is designed, and visitors to the creamery can vote on a local charity that will benefit from a portion of the proceeds made from the special treat.
This month, 25% of each Snickerdoodle Sundae benefits The Friends of the Oakland Public Library. What I didn’t know (even though it was printed on the menu) was that I could have ordered the “junior” version of the sundae. When this delicious beast arrived I could barely contain myself.
When the Snickerdoodle Sundae was set on our table, heads were turning. The enormous puddle of hot fudge made me want to dive right in, but wait, pictures first.
Everything about this sundae was amazing. From the cinnamon sprinkled on the whipped cream to the freshly baked, still warm snickerdoodle cookies that were hidden under mounds of chocolate and limited edition cinnamon ice cream, I could not stop raving about it.
I will admit though, that after a few bites, I was worried I wasn’t even going to make it to the Snickerdoodle cookies, so I asked for an extra bowl and filled it with the top layers of ice cream until I hit my gold.
My favorite thing about this sundae was definitely the limited edition cinnamon ice cream. It was very much like a churro type flavor, mild and sweet with hints of cinnamon that were not at all spicy or overpowering. The chocolate ice cream was also delicious, but I much preferred the cinnamon ice cream. The cookie was soft and warm (until my ice cream froze it up a bit) and the hot fudge, which they make in house & sell by the jar if you want to take some home, was amazing.
My husband ordered the “Black & Tan Sundae.” This one features toasted almond and creamy vanilla ice cream layered with their homemade caramel and hot fudged topped with whipped cream, toasted almonds and a cherry. My husband said that the almond ice cream was the best ice cream he had ever tasted.
Other orders at our table included chocolate mint one-scoop kids’ sundaes and a root beer float. Every thing we ordered was just amazing.
Unfortunately, we did not try either of the banana splits or the Fentons Special. This did not stop me from accosting other people’s orders.
According to their menu, The Fentons Special has been around for decades. It’s served in a tall glass layered with pineapple, strawberry, chocolate fudge, and caramel sauces with vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, and toasted almond ice cream, topped with sherbet slices, whipped cream, almonds and a cherry. Serious business.
While visiting Fentons, we noticed that not everyone took the time to sit down and order in. The take out line was out the door as well.
Fentons sells prepacked ice cream as well as custom, hand-packed containers in pint or quart sized portions. Just look at their yummy flavor board, it’s a tough decision. Something else cool? Check out the little peanut icons! If someone in your party has a peanut allergy, they make it easy for you to order. There are also little dots letting you know which flavors are low fat and sugar free.
In case you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend Fentons Creamery. If you are visiting the San Francisco area, a trip to Fentons is a must. I love that Pixar has chosen such a legendary local establishment to support. From what I was told, Pixar employees often celebrate wrapping films with a visit to Fentons. This is what led to the spot in Up.
On our way out, Fentons was still hopping — after 10:00 pm on a Sunday night. I really wanted to do a family photo reenacting that adorable scene in Up sitting in front of Fentons with our ice cream. Unfortunately it was too late, too dark, and too crowded. Next time though, we’re doing it. For sure!
On a side note, Adventure is out there! On June 25th, Russell and Dug from Pixar’s Up will be making camp at Disney California Adventure’s Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Guests will have a chance to meet and greet both characters and the kiddos will be given special maps that they can use to complete a series of challenges to earn “merit badges” allowing them to become Senior Wilderness Explorers. Sounds fun!