Candy was dandy (and so were zoos!)

Posted by Debbie Wilkinson on


Who remembers Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors?  For those who don’t know, Farrell’s was an ice cream parlor and sandwich shop founded in Portland, Oregon in 1963.  According to Wikipedia, in 1975 there were 120 locations across America. The last location, in Brea California, closed in 2019.


Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor

Growing up, this was a favorite place for our parents to take me and my three siblings for dinner. We celebrated some birthdays there, but more often we just went to have a casual family dinner. It was like a three-ring circus with colorful décor, a menu full of carnival-type food and, best of all, lots of ice cream and candy. It was close enough to where we lived that we could go there a few times a year.

Farrell’s was mainly known for two things – their Zoos and their Pig Troughs. Ordering a Pig Trough was literally a challenge you took on. It was basically two banana splits served in a dish that looked like a pig’s trough. If you were able to eat the whole thing you received a congratulatory ribbon or pin. I remember my aunt, uncle and two cousins coming to visit and we took them to Farrell’s. My uncle and one cousin both ordered the Pig Trough and both proudly finished them, much to the delight of the whole family.


Farrell's Pig Trough 

The Zoos were a birthday party must-have. I think every kid we knew probably had at least one birthday party at Farrell’s. It was exciting to be eating dinner when all of a sudden you would here alarm bells going off. Soon two employees would come running through the restaurant carrying a gigantic bowl between them (at least it looked gigantic to my kid-sized mind. It was actually about the size of a punch bowl). The bowl was filled with all flavors of ice cream, decorated with party favors. My favorite favors were the plastic zoo animals that came in lots of different colors (I wish now I had saved a few of those.) The employees would then deliver the Zoo to the birthday table.



Farrell's Zoo



The best part (at least to some people) was if the employees had an accident while running with the zoo. There were numerous reports over the years of employees slipping and tripping and dumping the zoos over onto unsuspecting patrons. I never got to witness that actually happening, which is probably a good thing. I will admit that I probably would have laughed my head off.

After having my favorite dinner of a hot dog and French fries, with ice cream for dessert you couldn’t leave without going through their candy shop (mainly because that’s where the cash register was. They were devilishly sneaky). It was great being surrounded by nothing but candy! They had every kind you could imagine and we always had to look at them all. My favorites were their lollipops and the butterscotch buttons. My Dad always got jawbreakers. Just the small ones which could fit in your mouth, not the big ones that could literally make you break your jaw.

As we grew up, we would occasionally go there during high school with classmates. Even when I went to college in San Diego there was one near where I was living. But it was in a strip mall and just didn’t have the same feel to me like it did when I was a kid. I remember thinking then that it really was the end of an era, years before it finally did come to an end.


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