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What Ever Happened to Coney Island Ice Cream?

December 2, 2014

More than just everyone’s favorite comfort food (because who hasn’t sobbed into a pint while watching Robb Stark die going through a tough break-up?), ice cream is one of those classic eats that can bring on powerful feelings of nostalgia. And for those of us who are old enough to have witnessed the demise of some well-loved brands, Coney Island exerts a particularly powerful pull.

I was only a wee toddler when the Coney Island brand started to fall off the grid, but I vividly remember tucking into a small cup of their bubblegum-flavored ice cream, its creamy sweetness and bubblegum bits evoking images of the brand’s distinctive carnival theme. For some, their Eskimo Roll was the stuff of legend, a celebrated ice cream sandwich of sorts that went on to inspire a lot of similar creations (such as Ian Carandang’s Chilly Burger and Penny Brown’s Ice Cream Sandwich) long after it was pulled from the freezers.

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Just like other nostalgic brands like Big Bob’s, Coney Island Ice Cream was last seen back in the nineties. Fast forward to the present day, and no one seems to know where the beloved brand went. Fortunately, with a little bit of digging here and there, we were able to find out a bit more about why it went off the radar (as well as where you can still get a taste of some select flavors today).

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Despite its American-sounding name, Coney Island was very much a Filipino brand. Established sometime in the 1970’s, Coney Island was one of two brands under Seamark Enterprises, then the second largest ice cream company in the Philippines. Owned by the Trillana – De Ocampo families (who, incidentally, were also the ones behind Whammo’s and other 90’s treats), the Coney Island brand was once so popular that there were about 33 Coney Island Scooping Stations operating throughout the country. Apart from the ubiquitous Eskimo Roll, kids (and kids-at-heart) went absolutely nuts over their innovative flavors like New York! New York! (a buttery pecan ice cream), Bubblegum, and Pistachio.

However, the giant Purefoods conglomerate bought out Seamark Enterprises in 1991, and after a brief spell on the PBA court (with one of the Purefoods teams being renamed the Coney Island Ice Cream Stars), the brand simply vanished.

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Back in 2009, the Trillana- De Ocampo families (who had already established the popular Go Nuts Donuts chain then) decided the bring back some of their old ice cream creations but under a different brand entirely. Rebranded as Go Nuts Ice Cream, the new product line’s flavor line-up was dotted with some of Coney Island Ice Cream’s most popular flavors. Available in select Go Nuts Donuts branches (the ones in SM Makati, SM Mall of Asia, and West Gate Filinvest in particular, if I’m not mistaken), scoops of Pistachio, Bubblegum, and New York! New York! ice cream, among others, are now available for anyone who’s in the mood for a gustatory blast from the past.

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But there’s still no sign of that legendary Eskimo Roll, though.

What was your favorite Coney Island Ice Cream treat? Have you tried Go Nuts Ice Cream? Does It Come Close to the Original Coney Island Ice Cream? Let us know in the comments below!

Serna Estrella SEE AUTHOR Serna Estrella

Serna is a slim piggy who heartily believes that salads are not real food and that desserts (fruit salad not included) should have their own food group. When she's not terrorizing people with her Grammar Nazi tendencies, she likes to hunt for the perfect afternoon tea spot that lets her pretend she's still in the age of Austen (albeit with electricity and better dental care).

16 comments in this post SHOW

16 responses to “What Ever Happened to Coney Island Ice Cream?”

  1. Jay Yuki says:

    Was thinking of that once… I remembered Coney Island was the thing in ice cream when i was a kid… Then suddenly we had Magnolia & Selecta…

  2. Victoria says:

    Sebastian’s replicated the Eskimo Roll with their Chilly Burger, so that’s good enough for me. The only other Coney Island thing I ever liked was the chocolate Cream Bar anyway.

  3. Joey Melliza says:

    hmmmm are the go-nuts doughnuts people the same group behind scarsdale too?

  4. Toasters says:

    My brother and I found Eskimo Rolls in the Shopwise Cubao branch not too long ago. I don’t know if they were accurate to the original ones (I was just a toddler when the brand disappeared) but they were pretty good. Better-priced than Penny Brown’s as well, in my opinion.

  5. T2Myk says:

    My generation truly enjoyed Coney Islands Ice Cream! There was a store in Greenhills and another in Glorietta. It was a great alternative to Magnolia at that time. My favorite flavor was Mint Chip (mint ice cream with choc chips) and Pistachio. Sayang it’s not around anymore.

  6. Tracee Alar says:

    The original owners really should have kept Coney Island and Big Bob’s around. I bet bubble gum ice cream and Whammos would still be very popular if they did.

  7. Govinda says:

    I remember eating Coney Island in makati near the Sanrio store. Missing one of my favorite flavor- grape cordial

  8. In case you didn’t know, Go Nuts in Westgate Alabang closed down years ago. 🙂

  9. Therese says:

    +1 for the Robb Stark mention and bubble gum and the eskimo pie were my favorites too. A petition for the eskimo pie needs to happen.

  10. Ohhhh I loved Coney Island Ice Cream!! It was my fave in my elementary days!! I remember they had this Casper Special Edition Ice Cream and those Banana Split ZigZag Ice Cream on a stick and that bubble gum flavor… Oh those were my super fave!!

  11. Coney Island ice cream introduced me to the taste of pistachio. I loved it since then. Merong branch dati sa Makati near Rustan (where Glorietta is now) back in the late 70s na lagi naming pinupuntahan. I miss it! So glad that it can still be found today!

  12. RyanF1 says:

    My childhood home was in Malate, a short walk from the CI branch on San Andres St., beside The Aristocrat. We’d hit it regularly after evening Mass at Malate Church, but all I ever indulged in was their Orange ice cream. Sometimes I’d mix it up and get a scoop of Lemon dipped in chocolate fudge and sprinkles. Never did have a taste for their other flavors.
    We moved to Alabang when I was in college in the early 90s, after which I slowly lost track with. I moved to the States several years later. Eager to “try the original” there I kinda looked for a CI branch around L.A., and to my confusion found none lol.
    I might hazard a visit to a Go Nuts branch next time but I should be in a craving mood to do so. With adulthood comes Lactose Intolerance (thank you Lactaid tablets). I’m not even a regular in Cold Stone Creamery despite my affinity for Ice Cream.

  13. Stephen Bonaobra says:

    looks like they brought the business to the US and with filipino flavors too! : http://coneytropical.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=26

  14. jing says:

    I really miss the Eskimo roll. nothing beats the taste of it.

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