Irvine Robbins, 1917-2008

Irvine (Irv) Robbins, ’40, who as co-founder of Baskin-Robbins introduced America to a host of unusual ice cream flavors, died May 5 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 90.

As a teenager, Robbins worked in his father’s Tacoma ice cream shop. He recalled that he often “finished a day’s work happy” and wanted that same feeling when he started his own business.

Robbins, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the UW in 1940, opened his first ice cream store in California in 1945. He teamed up with brother-in-law and business partner Burton Baskin in 1948 to open six stores. The chain became known as Baskin-Robbins in 1953. His motto: “We sell fun, not just ice cream.”

Robbins loved to invent new flavors and name them, including Plum Nuts (plums, vanilla and walnuts), ChaChaCha (cherry chocolate chip) and his personal favorite, Jamoca Almond Fudge.

Today, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest chain of specialty shops with more than 5,800 stores in 34 countries.