In this political era of demonizing, Andrew’s Ice Cream shocked the nation in May when it did something downright revolutionary: It was nice.
The Orange ice-cream parlor has built a cult following over the past couple of years for its creamy, milky product, which spans the flavor rainbow from the standard (luscious butter pecan) to the ethnic (ube ice cream, made from a Filipino purple yam, is the best flavor you’ve never tasted) to original creations (the Reindeer Tracks is like a peppermint stampede in your mouth) to even keeping a suggestion box that allows customers to offer their own concoctions. But it made national news after an unfortunate incident in which a racist customer started berating two young ladies because they dared to be Muslim in public, yelling, “I want them out of my country” to no one in particular. In video footage of the incident, the hijab-bedecked gals kept their cool and even threw in some sass: “Too bad; we’re here. Sucks for you,” one cracked to her harasser. But the Andrew’s Ice Cream owner on the floor was even more radical. She tossed out the Islamophobic loser with these stinging words: “If you can’t be nice, we don’t want you here.”
BOOM. That’s the mantra at Andrew’s: an oasis of positivity. Even before the incident, photos and inspirational quotes ranging from MLK to Muhammad Ali to the legendary shot of a sailor embracing a nurse in Times Square decorated the walls. A small library of classic children’s books (Dr. Seuss, the Berenstain Bears, Clifford the Big Red Dog) stands near the entrance, below a classroom project created by Andrew himself. It’s a Rockwell idyll come to life, and not just because of the book featuring his artwork in the unisex restroom.
There’s little else at Andrew’s—I think the family who owns it makes brownies, too, but I never notice while asking for more and more samples from the patient workers. Besides, I’m too impressed by the steady stream of Orange County who come in: old, young, working-class, Lexus drivers, all ethnicities imaginable—all united under ice cream, the way our Founding Fathers intended.
Andrew’s Ice Cream, 1549 E. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 829-9350; www.andrewsicecream.com.