I did a survey of the cost of a single scoop of ice cream (not including gelato) at dessert destinations in Santa Barbara. At each store the price of ice cream in a cup or on a sugar cone is the same.

The king of low price ice cream in town continues to be Thrifty (Rite-Aid) at $1.79. Next up the price ladder is Baskin-Robbins on upper State Street at $2.79 for a single scoop. First in line in the three dollar category is Cold Stone Creamery in Santa Barbara and Goleta which charges $3.65. For a dime more you can go to the new Rori’s Artisanal in Montecito to get a scoop for $3.75. Rounding out the $3 group is Ben & Jerry’s in Paseo Nuevo which commands $3.95. McConnell’s Ice Cream, whose long-time owner Jim McCoy passed away last January, charges $4.10 for a scoop.

At the top of the price list is the Great Pacific Ice Cream Co. on Stearns Wharf where the spectacular ambiance apparently comes at a premium. The price of a single scoop will set you back $4.75 which is interesting because Great Pacific serves… Thrifty ice cream. Hence the most expensive ice cream in town is also the cheapest!

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18 Responses to ICE CREAM IRONY

  1. James Sly says:

    To my mind, that would make Rory’s ice cream the best deal in town! Incredible flavors, organic Strauss family dairy cream, all premium ingredients, made with great care and Technique. It’s so good that we decided to switch to serving Rory’s Artisinal Creamery ice cream exclusively at Sly’s and Carpinteria. It cost us more but it’s a great, great product. And the retail store is seriously great.

    • Lily says:

      Rori’s is so good, but not all scoops are equal in size. In addition, I don’t really understand the hype over McConnell’s. Its better than the chains, but Rori’s and the two gelato places in Santa Barbara are much better.

      • SL says:

        Agreed, Rori’s really is a great product and with the quality of ingredients used the price seems fair. Same goes for HTS. The great thing about Rori’s too is it is now available in most grocery stores locally! As far as McConnel’s I agree as well. It’s fine and all, but I always feel a bit ripped off when I buy it.

        • Chaz says:

          Finally, someone agrees with me about Rori’s. For us “oldsters” it brings back the taste and texture of what real ice cream should be!

          Never understood the fondness for McConnell’s – watery like ice milk and very “underflavored” and nondescript.

          And, I continue to feel sorry for the youngsters who think Coldstone Creamery is really tasty.

          And, yes, I really am an ice cream connoisseur!

  2. lemonjelly says:

    Don’t forget here’s the Scoop in Montecito.
    They source much of their flavors from local farmers market and work closely with other local businesses to come up with delicious and interesting seasonal flavors, like the lemon and lavender sorbet, cherimoya sorbet, and most recently I had a sorbet made of Telegraph Brewing’s California Ale and cherimoya at a special event – it was amazing!
    For some, it’s not just about being the cheapest, it’s what additional value there is behind the product, as James Sly also said. Here’s the Scoop, McConnell’s and Rori’s all have a good amount of integrity in their ice cream and how they run their business, that’s what I support.

  3. Albert says:

    And there’s Renato’s Via Maestra ice cream. Very good indeed.

  4. Christine says:

    I have fuzzy memories of ditching GVJHS to walk downFairview to Thrifty’s, waiting line while rubbing a dime and nickel together, to get my scoop of mint chocolate chip. Now I feel old. 😉

    • Glenn says:

      Did there used to be one in the Magnolia shopping center? I think I did the same thing there. By the way there is a Rite Aid ice cream shop at the solvang/santa ynez border not covered in this guide next to Neilsens at 246 and alamo pintado rd.

    • Charlotte says:

      I guess that makes me older than you Christine…I ditched G.V. to go to Thrifty’s with only a dime! Good times….Do you remember D.J.’s Charburgers? ( now a Taco Bell, opposite the movie theaters). Also a great place to escape the clutches of Junior High.

  5. Glenn says:

    Yeah I discovered that a couple of years ago, I guess its all location location location!
    The same could be said of Char West on the pier which is a similar burger to in n out/habit at a more expensive price. Its quite a funky zone there.

  6. Chaz says:

    Speaking of us “oldsters” – it used to be fun to have car-hop service with fresh malts and ice cream sundaes at Peterson’s Drive-In located at State & Calle Laureles where El Pollo Loco is now.

    Friday night with the top down and the tunes blaring from KIST on the AM radio.

  7. N says:

    I like Thrifty ice cream, but the problem I have with it is that all the local Rite-Aid’s serving it have really dirty-looking ice cream cases. The glass enclosing the case/cover and ice on the walls in and around the case often look moldy, have black spots, or are otherwise dirty, making it hard to believe that they passed any sort of health inspection.

  8. Art says:

    Thrifty’s , a nickle a scoop 3 scoops for 15cents
    after a Mc Connell’s you could scrap the butter fat off the roof of your mouth.
    those were the days

  9. Tony from Goleta says:

    John, the real irony is a guy that only eats dessert once a
    year sampling so much ice cream!! 🙂

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