On National Ice Cream Day, which occurred on July 18th, ice cream shops across the country gave away free or discounted scoops. Untapped New York celebrated the special day by looking into the (unofficial) oldest ice cream parlor in New York City. Eddie’s Sweet Shop, established in 1925, has been serving its iconic ice cream for nearly a century. Located in Forest Hills, Queens, at 105-29 Metropolitan Ave at 72nd Road, this parlor is accessible by the E, F, R, and M trains.
Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor, established in 1897, may have ceded its title as the oldest ice cream parlor in the city when its original location closed in 2007. Its final location remains in the same borough as Eddie’s Sweet Shop at 81-04 37th Ave #1 in Jackson Heights. Vito Citrano, one of the current owners of Eddie’s Sweet Shop, does not acknowledge the title, even though no one else has claimed it.
Vito Citrano inherited the shop from his father Giuseppe Citrano, who purchased the venue in 1968. When Giuseppe purchased the shop, he wanted to save the vintage feel that the store already harbored in the late ’60s. The wooden and marble interior remains from when Eddie’s Sweet Shop first opened. The refrigerator used in shop is around 80 years old.
Since taking over, the Citrano family has added eight flavors to the menu. When they hand-whip the original 10 flavors — including chocolate and vanilla, of course — they use the same recipes that Giuseppe Citrano tweaked when he inherited them from the shop’s previous owners. He was a passionate man whose demeanor resembled the infamous Soup Nazi of New York City, according to his son.
Angelina Citrano, Vito Citrano’s wife and the other owner of the sweet shop, met him during their first date at Eddie’s Sweet Shop itself. It seems the raspberry sundae with marshmallow and whipped cream she savored that day sparked a love for ice cream — and for her future husband.
Together, the couple now ensures that they serve quality ice cream daily. Vito Citrano hand-whips each of the 18 flavors offered to customers using vintage equipment. Employees make their syrups — including flavors such as vanilla, root beer, and cherry — and whipped cream by hand. Other menu items include banana splits, milk shakes, ice cream sodas, and egg creams. Some even speak of a secret menu; however, one has to work to find it.
With such a rich history and tried-and-true ice cream expertise, Eddie’s Sweet Shop now offers class trips. When the students arrive, Eddie’s employees teach them about the sweet shop’s history and the best techniques for making ice cream. Some of the students’ grandparents may have eaten treats at the shop when they were children.
As innovative ice cream shops like Taiyaki NYC and Milk & Cream Cereal Bar take over New York City, old-time ice cream parlors like Eddie’s Sweet Shop are fading into extinction. However, the few that remain allow ice cream enthusiasts to travel back in time to an era when ice cream stores made sundaes from scratch and were the hangout spots for teens.
New York City also has a way of cherishing these time capsules. Other vintage venues in the city include Caffe Reggio and Hungarian Pastry Shop. Both of these cafes have been frequented by influential authors including Jack Kerouac and Ta-Nehisi Coates. However, no one has yet to find an ice cream shop in the city that has stood longer than Eddie’s Sweet Shop.
Next, check out the top 10 secrets of Forest Hills, Queens!