As you may have gathered, this was my second trip to Florence and the Shoals. I was there last year on a circumnavigation, and one of my stops, then, was a few minutes spent taking some photos of Trowbridge’s, a simply wonderful old ice cream and sandwich parlor that opened in 1918. Many hours later, as readers who followed the stories about that circumnavigation read, I got home to find that my SD card had screwed up and I lost heaven-only-knows how many pictures. Three different recovery programs pulled some of the data from the card, but every single picture that I took of Trowbridge’s was lost. I was so disappointed by the experience that I actually visited this lovely old place twice on this trip. On Friday afternoon, after I did a little digging in the UNA Library, I stopped by to snap some pictures and took them straight back to the hotel. Just to be superstitiously careful, you understand. Then we all went back Saturday morning to have ice cream for breakfast.
Trowbridge’s, which has been family-owned since 1918, only made their own ice cream for the first fifty years of the business’s life. This is, one must agree, a pretty unusual use of the word “only.” Most restaurants haven’t been around that long at all! But anyway, Purity Dairy of Nashville has been making their ice cream since 1968, and principal among them is their exclusive orange pineapple flavor. This is one of those celebrated “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” that we love to read about, and love to eat even more. The girlchild and I each had that, and the toddler went with strawberry, and Marie had caramel pie.
The ice cream was completely delicious. I may tend to go for cookies and cream, or cherry vanilla, but I’m perfectly happy to get out of my comfort zone for something exclusive and regional. It might be mixed in Tennessee, but the wall of framed testimonials from magazines between the register and the door is proof of how iconic the orange pineapple is in Florence, and I loved it completely. My only complaint is that while I love the restaurant for opening at the early hour of nine, I hate that they close at 5.30. A dish of orange pineapple would be perfect after supper.
The legend says that Paul Trowbridge was a dairy farmer from Texas who had business in the area in 1917. He fell in love with the Tennessee River and the small town of Florence, went home, packed up his family, and came back to Alabama. He bought a farm and leased the storefront a few months later to sell milk and ice cream. Trowbridge’s is the oldest continually-operating business in Florence, and still in its original location after 96 years. On the far wall, there are photos of the city and their building through the years, including some quite amazing ones depicting the construction of Wilson Dam.
I was very tempted to stop back by later in the day to snack on one of their sandwiches. Our server, who probably ranks in the top ten of the friendliest people that we’ve ever met, bragged about their pimento cheese, their ham salad, and their egg and olive sandwiches, each of which sounded very tempting, but they’d have to wait for another visit, because we had so much more to eat on this day, and the toddler was hopping up and down in his seat ready to go see the lions at UNA. More on that in a couple of days.
Other blog posts about Trowbridge’s:
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