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A sweet, 70-year legacy of keeping it real.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was founded by husband and wife, Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell, in Santa Barbara, California in 1949. The couple had recently relocated to the Central Coast of California, and Mac - who had owned some of the country’s original health food stores in the 1930’s - was looking for an idea.

He found it one night, in a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

America’s “industrial food complex” was in full swing. Quicker, simpler, easier and cheaper was - and still is - the order of the day.

Dairies and creameries had turned to artificial flavors, colorings and sweeteners to make their ice creams - most still do - and ice creams were now largely batch frozen - most still are - loaded with air, fillers and stabilizers.

Mac and Ernie decided they would start an ice cream company and that their company would be different. They’d look to Central Coast farms & purveyors for their bounty of year ‘round and seasonal ingredients, including local grass-grazed milk & cream, fruit, nuts and produce. They’d make their own jams and caramels and bake their own inclusions. And the fillers, stabilizers and preservatives that everybody else was using? Never.
We'll do it the right way.
They’d forego the easy route and make their ice creams from scratch. No compromises. Their company would produce “the finest ice creams in the world.”

Mac and Ernie spent months developing their own recipes, along with a revolutionary, mechanized version of the European French Pot ice cream-making process. In December, 1950 they opened their first shop.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was an immediate success. In time, it became a Santa Barbara institution.
For over a decade, customers lined up for Mac & Ernie’s ice creams at the store’s original location, on Mission and State Street in Santa Barbara.

In 1962, with Gordon’s passing, Ernesteen sold McConnell’s to local Santa Barbaran, Jim McCoy.

Over the next decades, Jim, his wife Jeney, and their family built on Mac and Ernie’s legacy of unparalleled quality, expanding distribution to new markets in Southern California.

In 1975, The McCoys purchased The Old Dairy and it became McConnell’s world headquarters - it remains so today - and production was turned over entirely to the making of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.
In 2012, McConnell’s transitioned to its third generation of family ownership when Santa Barbara husband and wife, Michael Palmer and Eva Ein (he’s a winemaker, she’s a chef/restaurateur) took the reins.

The Ein-Palmers were soon joined by Pennsylvania dairy-industry-veteran Charley Price, who helped lead McConnell’s in a major renovation project. The Old Dairy’s decades-old systems were overhauled and replaced with state-of-the-art freezers and ice cream-making equipment.
In 2013, McConnell’s returned to where things all started, when the flagship McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ store opened on State Street in downtown, Santa Barbara, less than a mile-and-a-half from Mac and Ernesteen’s original location.

Three generations in, the ice cream company TIME Magazine called “the best in the world”, operates according to the same standards Mac and Ernie established almost 70 years ago.