The Sentimental Inspiration Behind Rocky Road Ice Cream

Whether you enjoy it scooped into a waffle cone or churned to the perfect soft consistency in a bowl, it's easy to see why Rocky Road is the go-to choice for many. "Weird Al" Yankovic even wrote a song about it. Along with almonds and marshmallows, this sweet treat also has a couple of conflicting origin stories, and a very apt name.

When it comes to the ice cream flavor, some claim that Rocky Road was developed in 1929 by ice cream maker William Dreyer and candy maker Joseph Edy. According to Dreyer's website, as the United States was entering the Great Depression, it's said that "Dreyer and Edy wanted to create a special new flavor to make folks smile." To create this new recipe, Dreyer mixed marshmallows and walnuts (that would soon be replaced with almonds) into chocolate ice cream and named the new flavor Rocky Road as a reference to the struggles Americans were facing during the Great Depression.

Rocky Road's rocky history

However, that's just one version of the story. Fenton's Creamery, an ice cream shop in Oakland, California that has been open for over a century, also claims to be where Rocky Road originated. According to the business, Rocky Road was created by George Farren, who worked at the creamery. Farren blended ice cream with a candy bar inspired by the original Australian treat, creating the flavor. The candy maker told his friend William Dreyer about the recipe, and Dreyer began selling it using almonds instead of walnuts.

With such conflicting narratives, it's likely we'll never know who actually invented Rocky Road ice cream. To further complicate things, a recipe for Rocky Road was found in a Kansas cookbook written in 1920, years before Dreyer even started making ice cream.

These days, Rocky Road is still a beloved treat, and is perfect for hot summer days — and certain zodiac signs. Back in the '20s, during a time where the only ice cream available was plain old chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, Rocky Road was something different and exciting. In that way, it accomplished its goal of bringing joy to the rocky roads of the Great Depression.