Think back to when you were a kid, and the ice cream man handed you your very first ice cream sandwich–just a scoop held together by two soft cookies. Your face lit up and you licked the edges as the ice cream slowly dripped down your fingers. And it was really good.
Going back even further, to New York City, circa 1899, an ice cream man of that era–a pushcart peddler in the Bowery–wowed the neighborhood kids with his frozen invention: vanilla ice cream pressed between two thin wafers. The eager queue of children waiting meant there was no time to make change, so he charged only a penny.
This is the original ice cream sandwich. It was made like this, “The vendor removes a cover from the top of his cart, then an inner cover, disclosing the freezer, places the thin oblong wafer in a little tin mold made for the purpose, spreads it with loose cream, claps another wafer on top and turns it out into the grimy little paw awaiting it,” according to a source cited in Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making by Jeri Quinzio.
Now, the 21st century ice cream artisan is reinventing it. Wafers and cookies are substituted for croissants, brioche, and waffles.
Meet the modern-day ice cream sandwich, reinvented where it was born, in New York City. And it’s still making us smile.
Éclair Soft Serve Ice Cream Sandwich
204 E 10th Street
Disguised in an éclair, an ice cream sandwich from ChikaLicious is filled with swirls of one of four available soft serve flavors: Madagascar vanilla bean, matcha green tea, salted caramel, or Valrhona hot chocolate fudge. ($8)
DKA Ice Cream Sandwich
189 Spring Street
Dominique Ansel’s signature DKA–a crispy, caramelized croissant–sliced in half, holds together scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream for this off-the-menu treat, available at Dominique Ansel Bakery–if you just ask. ($7)
Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich
3 Columbus Circle
Rectangular macaron shells are combined with a complementary ice cream in these delicate macaron ice cream sandwiches by Francois Payard Bakery. Flavor combinations are Pistachio Raspberry, Coconut Mango, and Salted Caramel. ($4)
Donut Ice Cream Sandwich
796 Ninth Avenue
One of the original shops in New York City to begin scooping ice cream between sticky donuts, Holey Cream will prepare a donut ice cream sandwich with any ice cream or soft serve flavor and donut of your choice. ($7.75)
Brioche Gelato Sandwich
178 Mulberry Street
The “Panino Gelato” at M’O II Gelato comes on a brioche bun and is pressed like a panini, creating a hot-and-cold brioche gelato sandwich the way the Italians like it. ($6)
Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich
199 Avenue A
Mikey’s gourmet ice cream flavors–named for pop-culture icons like Flava Flav and Cyndi Lauper–are sandwiched between colorful waffles, making a half-size “Mac Daddy” sandwich (one scoop) and the full-size “Daddy Mac (two scoops).” The standard waffle flavors are “BananaRama,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” blue velvet, chocolate “Coco Beware,” and the red velvet “Redd Foxx.” ($6, $8)
Avocado Ice Cream Toast
2 Rivington Street
In Morgenstern’s dessert take on avocado toast, avocado ice cream is spread on toasted Japanese white bread, topped with olive oil and condensed milk, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. It’s served as a breakfast item until 12p.m. ($6.50)