A Company Built From Ice Cream
How Tom Carvel created America's First Ice Cream Franchise

Carvel Ice Cream History

Our Fresh Story

Carvel was created with the understanding that people always crave a happy escape. When Tom Carvel bought his first ice cream truck, his goal was to make his customers smile. However, with any business venture there are bumps in the road. For Tom, that bump caused a flat tire. Most people might have closed up shop, but Tom Carvel kept right on selling and found a remarkable opportunity.

He realized that instead of disliking the softer, melting frozen treats, people wanted more. They enjoyed the creamier, lighter taste. Soft serve ice cream was born. Tom not only invented a new treat but established his first shoppe right there where his truck had broken down. That store would be the first of a worldwide network and thousands of little occasions & big celebrations that make life enjoyable. It was the start of Carvel… America’s Freshest Ice Cream.

Carvel has always led the industry

Innovation is a part of our culture. From the moment Tom Carvel invented soft ice cream to today, we have constantly come up with new flavors, cakes, treats, machines, ideas and more.

  • 1906 carvel founder
    1906 Thomas A. Carvel is born in Athens, Greece on July 14th.
  • carvel first ice cream truck
    1929 Tom Carvel begins selling ice cream from his vending truck.
  • tom carvel talking
    1934 Nation’s first retail ice cream company is founded.
  • ice cream machine
    1936 Carvel Corporation is formed. Tom Carvel patents a “no air pump” super-low temperature ice cream.
  • carvel first franchise
    1947 Carvel® is the first to franchise a retail ice cream shop in the United States.
  • flying saucer ad image
    1951 The brand introduces the Flying Saucer® and celebrates its 100th shoppe.
  • carvel store illustration
    1956 Carvel® starts selling ice cream novelties at the first ice cream supermarket ever.
  • all kosher icon
    1969 Carvel® launches a complete line of all-kosher products.
  • roark capital group logo
    2001 Carvel® is sold to affiliates of Roark Capital Group.
  • vanilla ice cream scoop
    2002 The company sets the Guinness World Record for Largest Ice Cream Scoop Pyramid.
  • focus brands logo
    2004 FOCUS Brands is created.
  • chocolate sundae dasher
    2005 Carvel® adds Sundae Dashers® to its menu.
  • sundae dashers
    2013 Branded Sundae Dashers® are added to the menu.
  • carvel 80th birthday candle image
    2014 The brand celebrates its 80th Anniversary.
  • fudgie the wale 50th birthday cake
    2017 Fudgie the Whale® celebrates his 40th birthday.
Carvel History - Making Fresh Ice Cream

How It's Made

In an imported, pre-packaged, flash frozen world, true freshness stands out. That’s why we have always made everything right in the shoppe. It may take time, effort and passion, but the end result is a smooth, creamy flavor that can’t be matched anywhere else.

Tom Carvel in His Own Words
Tom was the first CEO to appear in his company’s commercials. People to this day remember the gravely, down-to-earth voice and smile. Listen to Tom Carvel for yourself:


Tom Carvel was as inventive with Carvel’s marketing as he was with the shoppes’ new cakes and flavors.

audio transcript

Tom Carvel’s goal was to create a Father’s Day “Whale of a Dad” cake. Fudgie turned out to be not only a popular dessert, but an iconic spokesman for the entire company.

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carvel characters

Carvel Characters

Carvel has always been known for their fun characters. Whether it was Captain Carvel in the 1973 comic book or the iconic Fudgie the Whale.

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