When my Mom was a kid her family would take trips to Balboa Island, and one of her favorite memories was going to the frozen banana place to get ice cream. It seems to be one of her more enduring memories, as she's talked about it often, a core memory my 5 year old niece would say, and so my Mom wanted to pay a visit to Balboa island after our Disneyland trip. It meant a lot to her for many reasons to make this visit happen, but I think one main reason was to share this place with her granddaughters. I visited Balboa island once over a decade ago, but just to walk around a get something to eat. No frozen anything.
When we made it to Balboa she wasn't sure if it was Sugar 'n Spice or Dad's Donut & Bakery Shop. Both have giant banana signs claiming to be the first frozen banana. Both claiming to be the original. One with a 1940's date; another with a 1960's. The Los Angeles Times has an article about it titled: "This Treat's a Rivalry on a Stick." Smithsonian.com has an article entitled: "The History of the Frozen Banana Stand."
Who's to say who's right and who's wrong?
In the end what was important was to visit the place my Mom remembered, and that was Sugar 'n Spice. She remembered the counter the door.
She got an ice cream cookie sandwich. The nieces got small ice cream cones dipped in sprinkles. I got a frozen banana because it seemed a shame not to, and I had always wanted to try one. Growing up I remember frozen banana's being sold at Disneyland and being curious about them, but never actually getting one. At least, I remember them being sold there. Maybe it was Magic Mountain? No, I think it was Disneyland. That's the problem with memories, they blur.
So I got the Frozen Banana, and there was a choice of two toppings or a little of everything. I couldn't decide so I got a little of everything, and it was pretty good. Next time I want to get a Balboa Bar: Vanilla Ice Cream dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts. It's a good thing I don't live near here.
Visiting Balboa was fun. It was a quick visit, one that involved driving around trying to get parking space (we parked off the island and shopped at Rite Aid before walking over), Chinese food, walking around seeing nostalgia, and buying postcards.
I'm very glad we went.