Aug 31, 2023 - Food and Drink

Rocky road ice cream's disputed origins in Oakland

Photo of a Rocky Road ice cream scoop sitting in a waffle cone. It's held against the backdrop of a beach.

Photo: Getty Images

Rocky road ice cream — the richness of chocolate, gooeyness of marshmallow and crunchy texture of nuts. It's a childhood staple in America — and it was first invented just across the water in Oakland.

Yes, but: There are different accounts of who actually first came up with the flavor.

What they're saying: Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, founded in North Oakland in 1928 and now owned by Nestlé's joint venture Froneri, claims to have made rocky road popular by cutting up marshmallows with sewing shears and blending them with almonds in chocolate ice cream.

  • Just down the road, Fenton's Creamery has also made its own claim to rocky road, which they churn handmade with walnuts instead of almonds.

The big picture: Both ice cream makers, however, say rocky road was born from a desire to bring a layer of sweetness and momentary joy to people during the Great Depression, no matter the rocky road they found themselves walking.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Dreyer's is owned by Froneri, a Nestlé joint venture, not directly by Nestlé itself.

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