CREAM Capitalizes on a Worldwide Love for Cookies and Ice Cream

All you need to know about CREAM is that it stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me.


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A huge mound of ice cream and other goodies are stuffed between two cookies at CREAM.

Photo courtesy CREAM

Some things taste so good that they’re hailed as local favorites: here ... and there ... and also way over there.

Chief among these classic-yet-culturally-elastic treats is the ice-cream sandwich — as exemplified locally at CREAM, which was founded in Berkeley and has shops there as well as in Alameda, Oakland, Fremont, and beyond.

When CREAM’s president and co-founder Gus Shamieh was growing up in Millbrae, “my mother would always be baking, and we became known throughout the neighborhood for my mom’s famous ice-cream sandwiches, made with her homemade cookies,” he recalled.

Ice-cream sandwiches were popular on the Jersey Shore at the turn of the 20th century — having been invented in 1899, food historians say, by a pushcart peddler in New York City’s Bowery district, who pressed soft vanilla ice cream between pairs of thin oblong wafers.

This concept crept cross-country. Ice cream cushioned between two large, soft cookies — as they are, customizably, at CREAM — became a San Francisco specialty in 1928, when Playland-at- the-Beach owner George Whitney invented the It’s It.

In 1931, Chicago sweets vendor Sol Leaf secured a patent for “an ice cream sandwich comprising a baked crispy wafer formed like a plate with an annual supporting surface in said plate, a filling of ice cream on said annular supporting surface, ... and a secondary wafer having relatively deep depressions filled with said ice cream ... and adapted to be retained on said ice cream by suction.”

This irresistible pairing boasts distinctly regional cousins worldwide. In Vietnam, ice cream is stuffed into baguettes, topped with crushed peanuts, and called bánh mì kep kem. In the Philippines, salty-sweet pandesal buns cradle the ice cream. Singaporean vendors fold ice-cream blocks inside slices of multicolored bread. In Uruguay, the ice cream separating two humble cross-hatched wafers is usually Neapolitan.

“We never had any plans to turn our nostalgic family treats into a business,” said Shamieh, who with his parents and sister finally “decided to take the plunge” and launch what became the flagship Berkeley shop.

Calling their company CREAM, which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me, they served sandwiches “just like my mom used to make them — with warm, freshly baked cookies and super-premium ice cream.

“The combo of the warm cookies and the ice cream in the middle creates the perfect treat that people crave all year ’round.”

CREAM, 2399 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-1000, CREAMNation.com/location/Berkeley.

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