There are so many things that I learned while researching for National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day! First off, Rocky Road ice cream was created in 1929 in California by William Dreyer, the ice cream magnate behind the Dreyer’s brand (known around these parts as Edy’s). He added walnuts and marshmallows to his chocolate ice cream, and named it “Rocky Road” after the stock market crash of 1929 to give people something to smile about in bad times. Nowadays, Rocky Road can include either walnuts or almonds, may be a mix of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and can also have ribbons of chocolate fudge swirled in between the marshmallows, but it’s all considered Rocky Road. Perhaps in this current economic climate, it’s starkly appropriate to head to the nearest creamery and pick yourself up some Rocky Road to lighten your own spirits about the economy.
Surprisingly, one of the best Rocky Roads out in the city comes from a vegan creamery! But then again, with the track record of Lula’s Sweet Apothecary pumping out high quality, delicious vegan treats, I would never put it past them to make any exceptional ice cream flavor. Vegans can be assured that at a reputable place like Lula’s, absolutely no animal products are used in their treats–which means vegan marshmallows, cashew-based ice cream, and non-dairy chocolate chips. But you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy the surprising creaminess of the non-dairy ice cream, or the sweet contrast between the slivers of crunchy almonds and the ribbons of marshmallows woven into the chocolate ice cream. If you’re showing up on this warm weekend, make sure to get to Lula’s early–homemade vegan ice cream that’s actually delicious (and sought after by vegans and us meat eaters alike!) sells out quickly, and you don’t want to be caught without your scoop by the end of the day!
Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
516 E 6th St (between Avenue A & Avenue B)
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“From the various flavors that I sampled, I would say many flavors are really good. If I didn’t know beforehand, I would not have assumed that everything was vegan friendly for the most part. The selections that I decided to get, rocky road and the mint chocolate chip, were fantastic. They taste almost exactly like their dairy version counterpart with a slight but pleasant difference that I can’t quite describe.”–Wing L.
“I’m allergic to milk, and I ate a freakin’ sundae with whipped topping, hot fudge, and a cherry. It was served in a glass with actual metal utensils. I would do it again in a heartbeat. There’s not a huge array of flavors — there were approximately ten, and three soft-serve flavors — but the two I tried were delicious. I had coconut fudge (which was made with a coconut base) and rocky road (which had a cashew base).”–A. I.
The other thing I learned while researching Rocky Road Ice Cream Day is that Rocky Road didn’t start as an ice cream flavor! Sure, William Dreyer added nuts and marshmallows to chocolate ice cream in 1929, but he was riffing off of his partner Joseph Edy’s chocolate candy bar, also made with nuts and marshmallow pieces. In many other countries, “Rocky Road” is still the name of the chocolate bar, which may also have pieces of dried fruit, shredded coconut, or raisins in them, depending on the country. (Outside of the U.S., ice cream with nuts and marshmallows is called Heavenly Hash, which also has its own national food holiday on February 2!) Here in New York you can still get a “Rocky Road” outside of its natural ice cream habitat, if you drop by the Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Brooklyn. Nearly in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge, this little bakery may specialize in cupcakes, but they also offer cakes, pastries, brownies, and Rocky Road Bars, a mix between a dense, baked brownie and a candy bar. It has marshmallows and white and milk chocolate swirled into the batter, and is topped with walnuts. It’s the classic version of an almost-forgotten treat, that shouldn’t be overshadowed on National Rocky Road Day just because its younger counterpart is a yummy, cool ice cream and this is just a candy bar 😉
Little Cupcake Bakeshop
9102 3rd Ave (at 91st St), Fort Hamilton
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Rocky Road Bar was such a good value. Two of these for $5 definitely weighs more than 1 slice of $4.75 cake. It was a nice chewy base (I think just graham cracker and butter), with gooey. marshmallow, white and milk chocolate and walnuts. Rocky road ice cream has almonds, yea? I guess walnuts are just easier to bake with. Anyway, this was not overly sweet and the texture contrast between all the components went well together.”–Matthew L.
“My first trip resulted in my acquiring a Rocky Road brownie. It was so sweet, but so good…marshmallows are low in calories, I kept telling myself.”–Lawrence R.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!