The Scoop: Tucker’s Ice Cream – How Creamy Is Too Creamy?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

By a brilliant stroke of luck, your two Scoop writers were placed together in Alameda for pediatric preceptorships this quarter. We arrived a bit early on our first afternoon and decided to stroll down Park Street, the central hub of Alameda’s historic business district. As we walked by all of the cute storefronts and restaurants, I was startled to a halt when Dawn Maxey gasped, thrust her arm in front of me, and pointed to the window at my left. My gaze followed her finger into Tucker’s Super Creamed Ice Cream, and immediately I knew that our next review for The Scoop would be of an ice cream parlor located outside of San Francisco’s city limits.

Tucker’s has been an Alameda institution for over 70 years, first opening its doors on June 3, 1941. It has a very different feel from the ice cream shops we’ve patronized in The City. Multiple rooms and a patio filled with tables make it a great place for large groups to come indulge their sweet tooths, and seasonal window displays give the place a homey touch. The ice cream itself is old-fashioned and full-flavored, and the words “creamy” and “fluffy” will melt from your mouth while a sugary drip does the same down the side of your cone.

With 30 flavors on the standard menu, plus an enormous variety of rotating seasonal flavors, I hardly knew where to begin my flavor sampling expedition. But since I’m a sucker for sprinkles, I had to start with a sampling of the Birthday Cake flavor.

It tasted like frosting mashed up with Funfetti birthday cake — a fantastic bite, but a whole scoop would have been overwhelmingly sweet. I went on to taste the Mocha Almond Fudge, which was also rich and sugary, with thick homemade fudge swirled in. I finally settled on a junior double scoop (slightly smaller than the normal double scoop), with scoops of Cookies and Cream and Pralines and Cream in a sugar cone ($4.50).

The Cookies and Cream was delectably saturated with crumbs and chunks of real Oreo in every creamy, rich bite, while the Pralines and Cream had sinful stripes of caramel streaked through the fluffy vanilla base. The ice cream tasted good, but was almost too light, airy and sweet. It melted fast, even on a cold November afternoon, and by the time I had gobbled it down, I felt sick from the sweetness.

Sitting across from me, my fellow critic also ordered a junior double scoop in a sugar cone, but with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough atop a scoop of Salted Caramel. I snuck a taste of each, and while I enjoyed the Salted Caramel, Dawn thought it was overly salty.

We both agreed that the Cookie Dough was good but suffered from the same unbalanced sweet-fluffy-creaminess as the other flavors we had tasted. If I still had the same tastebuds that I had in second grade, Tucker’s ice cream would be a dream come true. For anyone looking for a scoop of ice cream with nuanced flavor and satisfying texture, Tucker’s might not be a destination of choice.

Tucker’s did have other appetizing treats on display and wonderful smells emanating from behind the counter. Waffle cones and fudge are made in house, as well as shakes, floats and sundaes. Special treats include chocolate-dipped bananas, vanilla cones dipped in chocolate and signature wedding and birthday cakes.

One more thing to consider is the hefty price tag. For two average-sized cones (the scoops weren’t particularly generous) at $4.50 plus tax each, we dropped almost $10 on our afternoon snack. We left Tucker’s with empty pockets, a little bit queasy after all the sugar and underwhelmed by Alameda’s favorite ice cream shop.

Theresa Poulos is a second-year medical student.

Tucker’s Super Creamed Ice Cream 

(3.5 out of 5 stars)

1349 Park St.

Alameda, CA

(510) 522-4960

Hours: Sun.-Mon. 12 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Prices: $3.50 for one scoop, $5.25 two scoops, $6.75 for a milkshake.