For those who live in San Jose, you may have tasted the unassuming Treat ice cream without knowing much about its mission and origin. A scoop of the delicious indulgence is a no-frills dessert experience, void of trend-seeking and with a focus on quality. Where other brands may spend large sums of money on advertising and a social media presence, Treat would much rather splurge on an exotic fruit or ingredient for a seasonal flavor. Do not expect, however, to sit down and enjoy a cone of their ice cream, as this Bay Area staple is not a traditional storefront, but a unique factory with giant steel vats that would feel at home in a microbrewery.
Tucked away in a small parking lot without any directions or viewable signs, you may miss the building if relying solely on your phone’s GPS. Getting to the entrance requires walking through the parking lot and around the corner of the building to a modest green doorway with a simple, quaint sign bearing its name. An overwhelming sensation of “Is this the right address?” may loom overhead until you’re cordially greeted by an employee.
Entering this factory is truly a unique experience. You can see the product being made, submerging you into scents of cream and a hint of fruit as they’re heated and churned until finally cooled and mixed into a gallon bin. Within seconds, the craving for ice cream kicks in, but be sure to check out the list of flavors available on the wall, along with their one-of-a-kind seasonal selections. Treat is also cash only, which adds to the ambiance of buying ice cream straight from the source.
The unique company opened its doors in 1951 and was founded by Alfred Mauseth, known to local customers as Mr. Treat. Mauseth set out to create a business solely focused on producing rich flavors, ranging from traditional to innovative. Mauseth sadly passed away in 2015 but the passion for using locally grown ingredients and focusing on quality flavors for customers remains a fundamental part of the company.
Treat operates as a wholesale ice cream manufacturer which fills local ice cream shops, restaurants, and independent groceries. Lunardis Markets is one grocery store which always stocks Treat Ice Cream company flavors on shelf. They can also be found at Tuckers Ice Cream parlor in Alameda.
Today, searching for the “best dessert” seems to be synonymous with what’s most Instagram-friendly. We’ve begun to gravitate toward trends like rolled ice cream, insane amounts of toppings, and anything “aesthetically pleasing.” However, Treat maintains its notability and popularity based upon its original flavors, authentic take on classic favorites, and being just plain good. The popularity, in fact, began entirely from word of mouth.
Taylor Elwood, an avid ice cream lover and Yelp user finds and rates dessert treats throughout her travels.“I stumbled upon Treat and thought it was just a factory but I went and really liked it,” said Elwood.
Over time, sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, and other social media outlets caught on organically. Treat did not spend any money on advertising or marketing for its business. Instead, Mauseth focused his efforts entirely on the product.
Mango, which also attracts a lot of attention from customers, incorporates real mangoes imported from the Philippines, as well. Treat’s emphasis on not using artificial ingredients allows even their most ambitious flavors to taste authentic, unlike those from bigger ice cream chains.
“My favorite flavor is Burgundy Cherry and Ube. It tastes so fresh and the customer service is awesome,” said Matthew Balantac, a loyal customer who heard about the brand from word of mouth.
Living up to its name, Treat may just be the Bay Area’s best-kept secret for frozen indulgences.