What’s in Rocky Road Ice Cream?

When you first start eating ice cream you begin with the basics like chocolate and vanilla. Then maybe dip a toe into some strawberry or mint chocolate chip. Eventually you get into the advanced flavors, like rocky road ice cream. Besides being the ice cream that brought Chunk and Sloth together, rocky road is just plain delicious. But what is rocky road ice cream? What is in rocky road ice cream? Who invented rocky road ice cream? Let’s drive down this rocky road for some answers!

What is rocky road ice cream? What’s in rocky road ice cream?

Rocky road ice cream was one of the first ice creams to be made with mix-ins. Traditionally, it’s chocolate ice cream mixed with chunks of nuts and marshmallows. What kind of nuts are in rocky road ice cream? Usually almonds, but you could throw some walnuts in there if you want to walk on the wild side. There’s also a Rocky Road candy bar. It has chocolate, marshmallows, cashews, and graham crackers. And, actually, a rocky road-style candy could have inspired the ice cream. 

When was rocky road ice cream invented? And who invented rocky road ice cream?

By most accounts, rocky road ice was invented by William Dreyerin 1929 in Oakland, California. Most people probably recognize that last name from Dreyer’s ice cream. Dreyer was said to have called it rocky road due to the “rocky road” that people had to walk during the Depression. Or, you know, the chunks just make it “rocky.” 

William Dreyer was inspired to create rocky road ice cream by his business partner and candy maker, Joseph Edy (as in, Edy’s ice cream), who had created a chocolate candy bar filled with marshmallow and nuts. Dreyer is said to have used his wife’s sewing scissors to cut up the marshmallows and walnuts for the ice cream. That’s right, the original rocky road had walnuts, while most modern versions go with almonds. 

While the Dryer’s story is generally accepted as the origin of rocky road ice cream, there’s another creamery in Oakland that also lays claim to rocky road’s invention. Fentons Creamery claims that William Dryer stole his rocky road recipe from George Farren, a Fentons employee. Farren, too, based his chocolate, marshmallow, and nut ice cream on a candy bar. 

Whoever and however rocky road was invented, it’s still a popular, delicious treat to this day and one of the first ice creams to mix in other ingredients. Rocky road ice cream kicked down the door for ice creams like butter pecan, chocolate chip cookie dough, and cookies and cream to exist. Ben & Jerry, you owe rocky road a big thank you. 

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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