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THE BEST OF SUMMER: THE BEST...THE BEAUTIFUL...AND
THE BIZARRE | CONE HEADS | SO SOCAL

Confessions of a Macadamia Nut

June 07, 1998|Mary Melton

As the ornately scripted Thrifty Drug Store signs we've known since 1929 are rapidly replaced by those of their pharmaceutical usurper, Rite Aid, a frightening question emerges: What does this mean for Thrifty Ice Cream?

No Southern California childhood summer--no adulthood summer, for that matter--truly qualified as summer until the first blisteringly hot-day treat of a 10-cent Thrifty mint chocolate chip and rocky road double scoop. Later, when ice creams went designer, Thrifty's anachronistic pricing--even the peak price of $1.19 for a double seemed, well, thrifty in a sea of Hagen-Dazs and Tofutti--and the fabulously creamy texture kept the loyal flocking to the dipping station, to say nothing of those distinctively square scoops that recalled the chunky heels of a 1940s vamp's pump.

But then there were the two recent mergers, and fears of a summer filled with, "Hey, kids, how about some yummy Thrifty-PayLess-Rite Aid French vanilla!" landing with an antiseptic thud. Was this the fate of the beloved ice cream that has won 47 gold medals at the L.A. County Fair?

Not to worry. While Sarah Datz, spokeswoman for Rite Aid, acknowledges "we are actively doing face-lifts on the dipping stations," she assures that the Thrifty ice cream plant in El Monte will continue to churn out 56,000 gallons per day of Thrifty ice cream, enough for 50 million cones each year. The Thrifty name on the ice cream, she says, is "most definitely a traffic draw."

If anything, it's a survivor. "This ice cream has lasted through several takeovers and two mergers," admits LeRoy Klemmer, manager of the Studio City Rite Aid. "You can't say that about all the management."

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