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The Black and Tan

In honor of Fentons’ 120th birthday, here’s a top-to-bottom look at the Oakland creamery’s most famous invention.


Generations of East Bay families have been forming out-the-door lines at Fentons Creamery since it opened in 1894. The creation that keeps people coming back for more? Fentons’ black and tan sundae, with nearly three million sold since its invention. To celebrate the Oakland ice-cream shop’s 120 years in business, we sat down with owner Scott Whidden to deconstruct the creamery’s number one sundae layer by layer. fentonscreamery.com.


Cherry on Top: Fentons goes through about 700 cherries per day.

Whip It Real Good: For sundaes, Fentons whips its thick house-made whipped cream with extra air, so it’s not too heavy.

Eurydice GalkaSweet Idea: Melvin Fenton (son of creamery founder E. S. Fenton) invented toasted almond ice cream (pictured) as well as rocky road.

Go Nuts: A sprinkle of chopped, toasted almonds—grown in Winters and roasted in Lafayette—marries the toasted almond ice cream to the next layer.

What’s in a Name: Black refers to the house-made chocolate fudge sauce served cold to prevent the ice cream from melting. Tan refers to the caramel made in-house with one part cream and one part burnt brown sugar.

All in the Wrist: The creamery crew taught Warriors basketball star Stephen Curry how to scoop ice cream, like the vanilla seen here.

Heavy Lifting: Fully constructed, the sundae rings in at two pounds, including the soda glass.


Five Fun Facts about Fentons

Owner Scott Whidden dishes on the secret to more flavorful ice cream, Fentons’ claim to neon fame, and how many people it actually takes to get you that sundae.

Scott Whidden has been in the ice cream business since 1976 and is one of the foremost ice cream experts in the United States. Especially about Oakland’s Fentons, the ice cream business he owns with his wife, Nini. Here are Whidden’s five fun facts about this East Bay gem:

Fentons Fact #1: The warmer ice cream is, the more flavor it has.

Fentons Fact #2: Fentons had the first neon sign permit in the city of Oakland at its original ice cream shop location on 41st and Howe Street.

Fentons Fact #3: All ice cream starts with a vanilla base. And a quality base, using pristine ingredients, is key to good ice cream—no matter what flavors are added. (You can watch Fentons’ employees make ice cream through a window into a backroom kitchen.)

Fentons Fact #4: It takes about 100 people to make a sundae: From cutting down the sugar cane to placing the cherry on top to delivering it to the guest’s table.

Fentons Fact #5: Fentons scoops more ice cream than anyone else in the United States!

For more on Fentons Creamery, visit fentonscreamery.com

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