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Review: McConnell’s Ice Cream is a California treasure that never gets old

Photo credit: Gabby Kaplan
People line up to order from the unique menu at McConnell’s Ice Cream in Studio City. McConnell’s was founded in 1949 by Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell in Santa Barbara, California.

McConnell’s Ice Cream is a staple of my childhood and a California specialty that is truly unforgettable. Each time I step into the shop and the sweet-smelling air blasts against my face, I am overcome with memories of all the times I have been here before. I peer through the glass at the colorful flavors, and my mouth begins to water, excited for the first bite of my ice cream.

Originating in Santa Barbara, McConnell’s Ice Cream was founded by Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell in 1949. The ice cream shop prides itself in the simplicity of its recipes. With no added starches or gums to thicken the cream, their ice cream is all-natural and absolutely delicious.

Ever since I can remember, every trip to visit my grandma in Santa Barbara included McConnell’s. Whether we got it to go or devoured it in the shop, the taste of the ice cream has always reminded me of family. So when the owners opened a shop right where I live, in Studio City, you can imagine my excitement.

To give you a heads up, McConnell’s is somewhat pricier than your average ice cream place. For example, one pint of ice cream costs about $12, but I promise it is worth every bit. Only those who have eaten their ice cream can truly understand what I mean.

At McConnell’s, you can find all your basic flavors like chocolate, vanilla, mint chip, peppermint and —one of my family’s favorites — strawberry. This strawberry is made from Santa Barbara strawberries, which are five times better than any others, according to yours truly.

Those flavors are all great ways to go if you are looking for something classic. However, if you are looking for something with a little more pizzazz, flavors like Eureka Lemon and Marrion Berries, Pistachio and Almond Biscotti, Salted Caramel or Sweet Cream Caramel Brownie might do the trick.

Out of the aforementioned flavors, I strongly recommend the Eureka Lemon and Marrion Berries. You may be wondering what both of those things are, so I’ll explain. Eureka Lemons, also known as the “true lemon,” are slightly more bitter than meyer lemons. Marrion berries are a juicy cultivar of blackberries with a sweeter taste. This ice cream should be eaten in the months of spring because of its fresh taste.

Nonetheless, my personal favorite is Chocolate Covered Strawberry. The mixture of large, fresh Santa Barbara strawberry chunks and sweet bits of dark chocolate makes for an excellent summer treat.

In addition to your always-there ice creams, McConnell’s separates their flavors into different categories: vintage, limited releases, dairy-free and organic.

Vintage flavors are the ones that have been there since McConnell’s opening. Some of these classics include Sweet Cream, Black Coffee Chip and Dutchman’s Chocolate. In case anyone was wondering, Dutchman’s chocolate is a richer and generally better-tasting version of normal chocolate — I highly recommend.

Limited releases are unique flavors that are only available for a limited time, such as Garrison Brothers Whiskey with Pecan Pralines and S’mores ice cream.

McConnell’s also offers a variety of dairy-free ice creams. You can keep it simple with your dairy-free Cookies and Cream, or you could mix it up with dairy-free Passion Fruit Lemon Swirl. As if that was not enough, they offer organic Strawberry with Shortbread Cookies and an organic Golden State Vanilla. While I’ve never tried any of their dairy-free or organic options, I have full trust that they would be equally delicious.

McConnell’s offers simple sugar cones and a slightly pricier but scrumptious waffle cone that is worth every penny. I believe having a good cone is just as important as having good ice cream if you are looking for the ultimate ice cream experience.

From the smell of the store to the taste of the cones to the general feeling of satisfaction as you take that first bite, McConnell’s has it all. For those looking for a place to take your friends and family for an afternoon (or morning, no judgment) California-only treat, this is the place for you.

  • Service
  • Quality of Food
  • Ambiance
  • Diversity of Menu Options
  • Affordability


McConnell’s Ice Cream is a relatively pricier California treasure that never disappoints. Sitting on the benches outside as you take your first bite is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day.

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About the Contributor
Gabby Kaplan
Gabby Kaplan, Staff Reporter
Gabby Kaplan joined the Oracle as a Staff Reporter in 2023. She enjoys horseback riding, spending time with her friends, and cooking.

Comments (2)

As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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  • V

    Vivianne ArnoldApr 30, 2024 at 9:38 pm

    I love this review, Gabby!! One, it’s so accurate it could be a news piece– everyone who has tried McConnell’s feels represented by this article. It’s truly an incredible experience. Your voice comes through so beautifully through this article and you somehow make McConnell’s even better than before!! Impressive!!!

  • C

    Charlotte BurnapApr 30, 2024 at 8:45 pm

    Yess Gabby!! Love McConnell’s, love this review!! Such a great piece :)))