A list of things that are very San Francisco are never complete without the It’s-It ice cream sandwich. Invented by Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park owner George Whitney in 1928, an It’s-It is a scoop of ice cream sandwiched by two oatmeal cookies and then dipped into chocolate. In my opinion, the key components are the oatmeal cookies (where there are raisins: I’ve checked!), which provide a soft snap that somehow lightens the load of a regular cookie while also giving me the comfort and warmth of my grandma’s oatmeal cookies — perhaps a reminder that San Francisco is never as warm as an American summer promises. But I’m okay with that.
Any recreation experiment begs the question: why make your own? We’re spoiled with choice and availability in the Bay, so I’d absolutely be able to run blindfolded in any direction for half an hour before bumping into the storied ice cream treat. But, aside from the fact that I like to give myself a challenge, I simply like to create new flavor combinations. It’s-Its come in vanilla, chocolate, mint, and cappuccino, along with seasonal strawberry and pumpkin flavors, but I went off-script to make a version that was even more of an ode to the Bay Area with rocky road ice cream, a flavor that was actually invented in Oakland. In the 1920s, ice cream entrepreneur William Dreyer wanted to raise people’s spirits during the Great Depression and decided the best way to do so was with a combination of chocolate ice cream, nuts, and marshmallows.
First of all, I’m not going to stop you from doing your own thing. You can find your own oatmeal cookie recipe (or buy them), your own ice cream recipe (or buy it), and your own chocolate shell recipe (or buy it) and call it a day, but this is what I did. Many recipes veer fancy in order to get as close to an It’s-It as possible, but again: why recreate it when you can re-interpret it? If the Bay Area has taught me anything, it’s that there’s room for all flavors to exist here.