Alabama's Oldest Ice Cream Shop Has Been Doing Things the Same Way for More Than 100 Years

Have you tried the famous orange-pineapple ice cream?

Photo: Hermanos Photo

It all started in 1917. During that year, Texas dairy farmer Paul Trowbridge happened to stop overnight in the tiny North Alabama town of Florence on his way to a dairy convention in North Carolina. He was so enchanted by the community that by the time he made it home, his mind was made up. He packed up his wife and son and moved across the country to Florence. The following year, he opened Trowbridge's Creamery on North Court Street, where he served homemade ice cream, including the orange-pineapple flavor the ice cream parlor is still known for today.

For the next 50 years, the shop continued to churn out homemade ice cream, plus lunch counter staples like chili, hot dogs, and sandwiches, before turning the reins of ice cream production over to Purity Dairy of Nashville in 1968.

Today, the experience of walking into Trowbridge's hasn't changed a bit. Enter under the same light blue awning into a dining room that seems paused in time. Inside, you'll find mint green and white checkered floors with mint barstools and banquettes to match. Old photos, framed news clippings, and vintage Coca-Cola signs cover the walls. Sidle up to the soda counter and order off a menu of classic Southern dishes and ice cream treats.

Courtesy of Visit the Shoals

Sandwich options include chicken salad, tuna, egg and olive, pimiento cheese, and the retro Southern luncheon staple ham salad. The best part? Hardly anything costs more than $5. You can also get a bowl of homemade chicken soup, hotdog with made-in-house chili, or a grilled cheese. On the ice cream side, grab a scoop, milkshake, or sundae with toppings ranging from hot fudge, caramel, and butterscotch sauce to cherry, pineapple, and strawberry.

One of the most remarkable things about Trowbridge's is that it's still owned by the same family who started the business 104 years ago. Paul's grandson Don Trowbridge, now 84, and Don's daughter Pam run the joint and love keeping the longstanding tradition alive. Over the years, they've seen children grow up to take their children to Trowbridge's, then come back years later with their grandchildren as well.

Courtesy of Visit the Shoals

When asked the secret to Trowbridge's success over so many years, Don is clear on Trowbridge's philosophy.

"There's only three things it takes to make a success," he told Alabama Retail. "A quality product at a reasonable price with excellent service. It is a three-legged stool, and if you remove any one of the legs, you're not going to make it."

We can't argue with that!

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