On September 12, 2009, The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, published a story titled, “The 50 best things to eat in the world, and where to eat them.” Of the 50 eateries listed in the article, only nine were in the United States and three of those were in California. One was in Southern California. That listing was the best place to drink a milkshake: Fosselman’s in Alhambra, California.
First opened in Pasadena in 1921, Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co., now located in Alhambra, is one of the oldest ice cream makers in Southern California.* It is operated by brothers John and Chris Fosselman, grandsons of the company’s founder, Christian Anthony Fosselman. The elder Fosselman, a German immigrant, actually launched the company in 1919 in Iowa as a beer brewery. With the arrival of prohibition in 1920, he was forced to refocus to soft drinks and milk creamery products (such as ice cream). After a business trip to Los Angeles, from which he brought home a mechanized ice cream machine, it occurred to him that ice cream could be sold throughout more of the year in Southern California than it could in Iowa. So, in 1921, he moved his family and business to Pasadena.
By 1937, Christian’s sons had taken over the business and opened an ice cream store in South Pasadena. In 1941, they opened another store in Highland Park and a manufacturing facility in Alhambra. By the 1970s, however, only the Alhambra facility was still operating.
In 1989, a third generation of Fosselmans, brothers Chris and John Fosselman, aged 23 and 21, assumed control of the business. Since then, Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co. has continued as an Alhambra landmark and now sells ice cream products, not only to devoted ice cream fans off the street, but to hundreds of outlets ranging from California to Texas. In 2016, a Los Angeles Times article about the business and brothers referred to them as “Fosselman’s, the Alhambra emperors of ice cream.”
In 2019, Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co. celebrated 100 years in business. It was also announced in 2019 that brother Michael Fosselman and wife Katy would open a new store in Glendora at 180 North Glendora Avenue. Projected to open in September 2019, the new store would simply be named The Ice Cream Shop (minus the Fosselman name, allowing brother Michael to operate independently of the brand). The new store, however, would still feature traditional Fosselman’s ice cream as well as its own new products.
Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.
1824 West Main Street
* As for who in Southern California has scooped ice cream the longest, that honor goes to Fair Oaks Pharmacy in South Pasadena, scooping ice cream since 1915.