Hoboken's history with ice cream
Ice cream has been part of Hoboken life for well over a century. In fact, the Mile-Square City has its own page in ice cream history. Italo Marchiony
patented the ice cream cone in 1903, and produced cones at a Hoboken factory until a fire destroyed it in 1934. Marchiony also sold ice cream from cones at his shop on 219 Grand St.
The city also has a frosty treat named after it - the "Hoboken Special" (pineapple soda topped off with a scoop of chocolate ice cream). Washington Street was once home to popular ice cream parlors like Umland's, Able's, and Jeannette's - which, unfortunately, are long gone.
However, a new breed of ice cream shop is thriving in Hoboken, much to the delight of the young and the young at heart.
Those who like to sit and relax while they enjoy their ice cream can be found at Jordan's in downtown Hoboken. Orders are taken inside the store, and then patrons can sit outside at small tables to enjoy their treat. The shop features old favorites like chocolate and coffee, but less conventional flavors are offered seasonally. The menu includes varieties like eggnog, pumpkin, cinnamon, and green tea.
Even a list this varied can leave out some favorites, though. Joey Terach of Hoboken has been searching all over for his favorite poison, but has only found it in a few select places.
"I think there's only one or two companies that make it - it's Oreos and mint," he said. "That's my favorite."
Others, however, are satisfied with anything they can get.
"I don't think I have one," said Mark Showhet of Manhattan, when asked for his favorite flavor. "I just really, really love ice cream."
Showhet, who says he's often polished off a half-gallon within an hour of buying it, has decided to give up his habit for a while.
"I'm about to go on a three-week, no-dairy diet," Showhet sighed, enjoying his "last supper" at Jordan's. "The doctor said if I stop eating milk [products], all the aches and pains I have will go away."
Those looking for ice cream on the go frequent Family Scoops, which features a walk-up window. The shop is a favorite hangout of Kush Teotia of Hoboken, who has stopped by about twice a week for the past two years - always with a few buddies in tow.
"I won't come by myself," he said, ordering for himself and his two companions. "It's good to have company."
Though Teotia ordered a lemon Italian ice, he admitted that his real weakness is the shop's ice cream - especially his favorite flavor, chocolate.
"I like the cone better," he said. "I love chocolate. Anything chocolate, I'll have."
What keeps Teotia coming back, he said, is the shop's homemade treats.
"I hate the machine-made ice cream," he said, digging into his dessert. "I don't like it at all - it's just not ice cream."
Further down the line were Veronica Reo of Hoboken and Nick Steever of Jersey City - along with Bella the Chihuahua, hitching a ride in Reo's tote bag.
Reo recently moved to Hoboken from Princeton, and said that she and Steever had visited Family Scoops just once before, but now they're hooked.
"They do a good job," said Steever. "This is the price I expect to pay, and the quality I expect as well."
Reo, whose favorite flavor is chocolate with strawberries, offered some of her treat to Bella, who wasn't interested.
"She's not ice cream-friendly," laughed Reo, as the dog halfheartedly sniffed the treat. "She only wants what you're having."
Bring the kids
Good food and great service can draw customers back for years, even from outside the area. Rich and Gina Giuditta of West Orange have been visiting Hobo's ice cream store on Washington Street for the past 10 years. Since then, they've come back a few times a week, now accompanied by their young family.
"We used to eat at Margherita's before we had our tribe," said Rich Giuditta. (The "tribe," by the way, consists of Christopher, age 4; Anthony, age 2; and Giovanna, 9 months - all of whom were already in their pajamas.) He and his wife came across the store "just by chance one day," he said, after a meal at the Italian restaurant.
"It's the best homemade ice cream in Hoboken," he said. "Two or three nights a week, we take them to get ice cream as a family. It's about a 15-minute drive. Then we take them for a walk down by Frank Sinatra Drive. We walk along them pier, and they get back in the car and go to sleep."
"It's good," said Christopher and Anthony about their ice cream, while Giovanna laughed and played with her spoon.
Their parents added that they might not be old enough to appreciate the homemade quality over flashy presentation.
"They prefer the truck over the store, simply because of the bells and the music," said Rich.
The kids happily ate their vanilla cups - not necessarily because it's their favorite flavor, but because of their parents' wisdom.
"It's the cleanest," Rich laughed, as Gina added, "We're trying to keep them away from anything else for now."
Today's youngsters certainly enjoy their ice cream, but what about the youth of yesteryear?
Schnackenberg's Luncheonette, still furnished with narrow wooden booths and vintage advertisements for Coca-Cola, serves as a testament to those who remember a simpler time and a different Hoboken. The store is owned by Betty and Dorothy Schnackenberg, whose parents opened it in 1931.
Schnackenberg's doesn't offer many flavors (only vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry), but it makes up for it with low prices. Ice cream ranges from 75 cents for a one-scoop cone to $2.50 for a banana split - quite a bargain today, when most places charge more than $5 for the treat.
The Schnackenberg sisters thoughtfully include a free cup of water with ice cream orders as well, another custom from the old days.
However, it's the nostalgia, rather than the prices, that keeps many Schnackenberg's customers coming back year after year - and in some cases, decade after decade.
"It's like home," said Joe Garito of Hoboken. "I've been coming here since 1952. It's got good memories."
"It's the great American pastime," he added. "Ice cream, not baseball."
Hovie Forman, sitting farther down the counter, agreed.
"I used to come here as a kid," he said, sipping a vanilla egg cream. "Even though I was from downtown, my father used to bring us here for ice cream. It's the same [as it used to be]. It's 'Old Hoboken,' and the food is good - you can't complain about the food. And it's still family-run."
With so many ice cream parlors in Hoboken during his childhood, Forman said, "cross-town rivalries" were common.
"My cousin Howard would tell us, 'Our ice cream is better at Schnackenberg's.' You know how kids are," Forman said. "It was just an excuse for our parents to give us money for candy and ice cream."
"My aunt would give us $4 to get candy, and you'd have enough left to get ice cream," he continued. "And when you're a kid, you'd run all the way up here from First Street."
When the urge for ice cream made them impatient, however, Forman and his pals found quicker ways of getting uptown.
"You ever see that movie Bronx Tale?" asked Forman. "We used to grab onto the back of buses. The bus drivers knew. We weren't banging on windows - we were just hitching a ride."
"We never thought we'd get hurt doing that," Garito added.