Home | All Almanac Topics | Economy & Business

Born in Glendale and Pasadena:
Baskin Robbins 31 Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of Mooss via Pixabay.com.

In 1945, Irvine “Irv” Robbins, opened his ice cream shop "Snowbird Ice Cream" in Glendale and, the following year, Burton “Burt” Baskins opened his ice cream shop "Burton's Ice Cream Shop" in Pasadena. The two were brothers-in-law and sought to do their business planning together, but Robbin's father advised them to open separate shops. Robbins learned the ice cream business as a teen in his father’s ice cream shop in Tacoma, Washington, and Baskins learned to make ice cream during the war in the South Pacific in the Navy. Foreshadowing the Baskins Robbins method, Robbins offered 21 different ice cream flavors and a fun, festive atmosphere, an innovation for ice cream shops at the time. By 1948, the two operated six stores between them and introduced the idea of franchising ice cream shops.

In 1949, with more than 40 shops between them, the brothers-in-law jointly purchased a dairy production facility in Burbank, giving them greater control over production and the ability to try new ingredients and develop new flavors. In 1953, they finally merged their separate businesses to form Baskin Robbins Partnership. They adopted Robbins’ practice of offering many different flavors for the joint venture, but increased the number of flavors from 21 to 31, one for each day of the month. Their new identity, Baskin Robbins 31 Ice Cream, further adopted the fun, carnival image, featuring cherry and chocolate polka dots in their designs and their iconic pink spoons, with free tastings of any of their flavors. The first shop to reflect their new image was at 804 North Glendale Avenue in Glendale.

By the 1960s, the brother-in-law partners operated 400 ice cream shops across the country. In 1962, the company’s name became Baskin Robbins, Inc. In 1967, the brothers-in-law sold the chain to United Brands Company and the new owners expanded Baskin Robbins internationally to become the largest chain of ice cream shops in the world. It is now a subsidiary of Dunkin' Brands, headquartered in Massachusetts, and operates more than 8,000 shops in nearly 52 countries.