Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Icy Blast From the Past

Anyone who grew up in Northern Virginia in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s will remember Gifford’s Ice Cream shop.


There is apparently some upstart Maine company with the same name, but they only started in 1980. The real Gifford’s started in 1938 (the year Momma was born!) in the Washington DC area. The Bailey’s Crossroads shop (MY Gifford’s) opened in 1956 – 3 years before I was born. They have been owned by various people over the years, but there are still Gifford’s stores in MD and DC. The VA stores have been closed for years. And I haven’t had any Gifford’s ice cream since the Bailey’s store closed.

Gifford’s was not your average ice cream stand. It was a large airy room with a uniformed staff and table service.






Along one wall was a counter where candy and to go orders were sold. My childhood dream was to have one of each kind of the candy sticks.


Gifford’s was the kind of place that families went to for ice cream after a family dinner. A nice place. A special place.

So imagine my delighted surprise when I came upon this wandering around Whole Foods yesterday:


And on the back a picture that stirred so many memories:

That’s MY Giffords. That’s exactly what it looked like. I doubt that Roasted Coconut was a flavor back then, but it was OUTSTANDING.

20 comments:

  1. Those MEMORIES!! The website looks scrumptious, all around, and the flavors listed would warrant cleaning out the entire freezer and driving however many miles it is to that store.

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  2. It WAS scrumptious! Both that bowl of Roasted Coconut (was there ever a more felicitious phrase?) and all those cups, cones and concoctions all those many years ago. Being a child, I probably got mostly cones, but I remember that when you ordered a hot fudge sundae, the hot fudge came in its own wee little pottery pitcher - the better to dole out the delicious sauce so that there was still some left for the last bite of ice cream. And the Swiss chocolate sauce was positively ethereal!

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  3. Wow, what memories. My family always went to the one on Lee Highway and N. Jefferson in Arlington. Whenever I think of Gifford's I think of my grandmother because that would be a special trip/treat she would take us to. I remember getting a chocolate soda(?) all the time. Can't remember the correct name. It came in a tall milkshake glass with vanilla ice cream in it, whipped cream and a cherry on top! YUM. I miss it.

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  4. Welcome! Nice to 'meet' someone who shares my Giffords memories. It really was a treat, wasn't it. Not just a casual stop at Baskin Robbins for a quick cone, but a destination!

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  5. I remember the one on Lee Highway in Arlington as well!!! At Christmas, my dad would buy their huge candy canes and hang them on my bedroom door Christmas eve. My sister and I would bump into them on our way down to the tree! And of course we made weekly trips for that fabulous ice cream - will have to check out Whole Foods!

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  6. Welcome! I love the candy cane story. What a great memory! Hope you visit again!

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  7. I grew up in Alexandria and we went to Gifford's about twice a month - great memories!

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  8. Hi, Beth! Thanks for visiting. I, too, grew up in Alexandria - graduated from TC in 1977. One of my grandmothers lived near Giffords and the rest of the family in Falls Church, so we were twice a month folks, too! Best, Kim

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  9. Loved Gifford's Swiss chocolate ice cream! One of the best memories of the time we spent in Arlington when I was a kid.

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  10. Thank you for stopping by, pendy! Swiss chocolate is another favorite of mine and a flavor that you almost never see anymore. Best, Kim

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  11. Occasionally on the way home to Bancroft Apts from work at the Pentagon I'd stop into Gifford's and take-out a large banana split for dinner. Mmmmmmmmm! Would love to have one of those again.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Jim! I was recently remembering their shop and telling my husband what he missed growing up in Richmond with only Baskin-Robbins or Highs! I remember Bancroft apartments, too!

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  12. You've evoked some great memories, and that menu design... can't forget any part of that delicious childhood experience. That's the same Gifford's where my parents took me so often. I know you remember all that wonderful candy behind the counter, too. Alpine Split. That was always my choice. I truly miss Gifford's. Thanks so much for the sweet reminder.

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    1. Thanks so much for coming, Betty! My mother and I talk about Gifford's all the time! No other ice cream shop has ever come close to it.

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    2. It means a lot to me to have run into you on the web, because my immediate family has passed on, so I'm the only one left to remember. So really, I'm delighted to meet you. Oh, and that delightful smell when you walked in the store! Remember? Nothing like it. Anyway, great to meet you. I hope you're enjoying life.

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    3. I'm glad to 'meet' you, too. There aren't too many people in my life that remember that time and area! Do you remember the pony rides at the corner of Rt. 7 and Columbia Pike? And the Shakey's Pizza that was almost across the street from Gifford's? My whole extended family would meet at Shakey's for dinner - sitting at long tables and singing songs (follow the bouncing ball!).

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    4. Ah, the pony rides! Yes indeed, my Dad would take me there on occasion. We went to St. Paul's Episcopal Church behind the shopping center (corner of Church and Payne Streets), so that was how we started every Sunday, and sometimes we just stayed in that area to do something else after church before going back home (in Alexandria). Sometimes we'd stop at Krispy Kreme on Rt. 7 on the way home. I do seem to recall going to that Shakey's with friends when I was older, but somehow the memory isn't as strong, I don't know why. Actually, I think there was another Shakey's in Annandale where we would usually go. The point is, though, that I did do time at Shakey's. lol

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    5. Another link - I am also an Episcopalian. We went to Immanuel on the Hill on Seminary Road in Alexandria! And I certainly remember the KK - I think you had to go almost all the way to Hybla Valley to get to the other one.

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    6. Ha! We did a stint at Emmanuel "in the Hole." Also, Grace on Russell Rd. for a little while. At some point, we even went as far as St. Alban's in Annandale, but I would say that St. Paul's in Bailey's Cross Roads was more or less home base. My Dad was a bit of an explorer. Well, my goodness, Kim. It's certainly old home week, isn't it?

      I live in Front Royal, now, but sometimes it seems like I'm a million miles from home. It's very nice to know somebody who remembers the old haunts.

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    7. It IS like old home week! I graduated from TC Williams in Alexandria in 1977 - forty years!!! How about you?

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