Description and review of Gunther’s Ice Cream, Sacramento’s oldest ice cream parlor. Gunther’s Ice Cream, located in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Sacramento, was recently named the “best” ice cream in California.
Sacramento has alternated between “very hot” and “comfortably warm” days recently, but it was very hot the day I headed over to Gunther’s Ice Cream to treat myself. I don’t often eat ice cream, but when I do I want the “good stuff”.
Gunther’s Ice Cream is a long-time favorite of Sacramentans. Its ice cream starts with quality ingredients and a 1940’s recipe that includes a higher percentage of butterfat cream than commercial brands. The result – ice cream heaven.
In addition to 40 flavors of ice cream, the menu includes real fruit freezes, ice cream cakes, ice cream pies, sherbet, and a variety of hand-made novelties (bon bons, chocolate covered cherries, ice cream sandwiches, etc.) Beverages include milkshakes and fresh fruit smoothies.
A Bit of Background….
Herman “Pop” Gunther and his wife Ira established Gunther’s in 1940 after moving from the Bay Area to Sacramento. The original store was located on the corner of 5th Avenue and Franklin Blvd.
After the deaths of her husband and son, Iva Gunther sold the business to Carl Buchell in 1967. The present owner, Rick Klopp, worked for Buchell from 1969 until 1974 when he in turn bought the business.
In 1949, the original owners Herman and Ira built a new store close by the original, the same building that houses Gunther’s Ice Cream today. The building was designed in the Googie architectural style. Googie is a type of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, etc. Think The Jetsons.
Atop the newly built building a neon sign designed was Gunther was erected – Jugglin’ Joe. At night Jugglin’ Joe tosses a scoop of ice cream into the air with his right hand, and it lands in the cone in his left hand. Jugglin’ Joe is loved by both children and adults.
In 2018, the building was listed as an historic landmark in the Sacramento Register of Historic and Cultural Resources.
Food & Wine
In June 2021, Food & Wine published its listing of The Best Ice Cream in Every State. I was pleased to see Gunther’s Ice Cream listed as the “best” ice cream in California. It is always nice to see a Sacramento business receive recognition – it is after all a big state and the competition is fierce.
Gunther’s Ice Cream Mural
A recent addition to the outside of the Gunther’s Ice Cream building is a colorful mural by Sacramento Delta-area artist Mary Sand.
The artist incorporated style elements from the 1940’s and 1950’s into the mural as a nod to Gunther’s Ice Cream early decades and the buildings Googie architecture.
The mural also includes a fun interactive element – a bunch of balloons painted with varied ice cream flavors that people can stand in front of and appear to be holding.
What is your favorite flavor(s) of Gunther’s ice cream?
Gunther’s Ice Cream Snapshot:
- 2801 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95818 (Franklin Blvd. & 3rd Avenue)
- (916) 457-6646
- Summer Hours: (11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.) Daily
- Street Parking
- Credit Cards Only
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