Small Business Awards 2013: It's-It

Golden Survivor Award indeed -- these icecream sandwiches have been around for 85 years

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Jim and Charlie Shamieh and Alex McDow head the team behind your favorite historic treat.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MIKE KOOZMIN

What's been San Francisco's go-to cold 'n creamy treat for the past 85 years? No, its not Dianne Feinstein. It's It's-It, that native warm weather snack, created on a deliciously fateful day in 1928 when George Whitney squished a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two big oatmeal cookies and dipped the resulting sandwich into dark chocolate. For more than four decades, Whitney sold his It's-Its at Playland-at-the-Beach, until that legendary local amusement park was demolished in the 1970s. Fortune intervened, and the brand was reinvigorated -- soon to travel beyond the Bay, throughout California, and into pretty much every western state, spreading yumminess up and down the coast.

The Shamieh family now operates It's-It (the company, based in Burlingame, is headed by Charles Shamieh) and continues to uphold the tasty tradition of "the official food of San Francisco." (Take that, cioppino!)

"Sure it's always a tough to be the little guy -- when you've got your Nestles and your Unilevers out there as competition," vice president of sales Jim Shamieh told us. "But we have an amazing built-in fan base that includes parents, grandparents, great-grandparents ... it's the best kind of loyalty. And we keep it current by introducing different flavors." (Those flavors include the Big Daddy -- a "chunk of ice cream between two chocolate wafers" -- and the Super Sundae, an ice cream dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in roasted peanuts). "And we distribute to Denver, Seattle, Portland ... pretty much everywhere this side of the Rocky Mountains." Sweet.

www.itsiticecream.com

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