A Very Tasty Polar Bear Experience

No, not that kind of Polar Bear….walk this way…. 

This kind of Polar Bear….

My husband discovered a delicious Mexican chocolate ice cream at Jardines de San Juan, a restaurant in San Juan Bautista. He loved it so much he inquired as to whose brand it was and he was told that it was made locally in Santa Cruz at Polar Bear Ice Cream. He decided that a trip out there was in order so he could check it out.

Our first time there, we were a little surprised to discover that the store is located in a small industrial section, just off of Cabrillo Highway. Not inconvenient to get to, but not as conventional as we expected.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a very cheerful young lady, Andra Aquino; who as it turns out, is the co-owner of the business along with her mother, Mary Young. Mary and Andra have owned the business for the past seven years; however, Polar Bear Ice Cream has been servicing the Santa Cruz area for more than 35 years. This is now a full-fledged family owned business as Mary’s husband, Jack, formerly in the high tech industry, retired and now runs the back office and keeps the books. A future generation may have even been on site the day I was there, as Andra had her small baby hanging out by her side soaking up the ways of the business.

Happy to have found the store, my husband purchased many quart containers of the ice cream and we trotted off.

Fast forward a few weeks…ice cream is all gone (I may have had 1 serving) and my husband now wants to make another trip back to Santa Cruz to restock.

So, in the rain, we drive over the hill to Santa Cruz to refill our inventory of Polar Bear ice cream. As Mary is packaging up the items, now double our original order, we begin chatting and discover that Polar Bear offers some incredible gourmet flavors that have been developed in conjunction with some local businesses. They have a flavor they developed with The True Olive Oil Connection called Blood Orange which is made with olive oil; and as strange as it may sound, I had a sample and it was so creamy good with a hint of orange ~ absolutely delicious. They also developed a really good Chai ice cream with The Black Flower Chai Company and Mary is now experimenting with a balsamic flavor which may be on the menu soon. She also created a flavor called Motor Cop Crunch at the suggestion of some local motorcycle cops who frequent the store which has become a popular flavor. (flavor list)

What makes Polar Bear Ice Cream unique is that they use only the freshest all-natural ingredients, and because they are purchased from companies in the area, it supports the local economy. You can’t beat that! They produce mostly everything by hand and quality is their main focus.  Each container is packed and labeled by hand which provides a product with a consistent superior flavor, and gives it a homemade feel.

In support of local businesses, here’s a little shout-out to some of the companies they buy their ingredients from: Vanilla from The Vanilla Company in Santa Cruz; Olallieberries from Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville; Fresh Strawberries from Watsonville; Honey from Jeff Walls Bees & Honey in Soquel; Cookies from Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz; Nuts from Henderson Nut Factory in Lafayette; and the brownies are made on site.

Many of you may have already tried this ice cream without evening knowing it, as Polar Bear is served at many restaurants within the Santa Cruz region such as The Crow’s Nest, Palapas, Betty Burgers and too many more to list (see here). Ever had the yogurt at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or the ice cream at Marini’s at the Wharf or the Downtown locations? You guessed it, Polar Bear Ice Cream.

Mary and her daughter are happy with the success of their business and are hoping to expand “over the hill” into Silicon Valley….and that would make us very happy!

Until then, we’ll be making the trip over the hill to Polar Bear Ice Cream to keep our freezer stocked.

Polar Bear Ice Cream
389 Coral Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 – 2106
www. santacruzpolarbear.com

8 thoughts on “A Very Tasty Polar Bear Experience

  1. How interesting! Would love to try this but I’m about 2500 miles away… My wife is a native Californian, need to ask her if she’s familiar with this brand as she loves ice cream too.

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