Philadelphia: A Legend, Past its Prime, at Bassetts
Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bassetts bills itself as America's oldest ice cream shop, founded in 1861. With one location, in Philadelphia's famous Reading Terminal Market, Bassetts has enjoyed an illustrious history. Bassetts was one of the first shops in the Reading Terminal, which was built in 1893. The shop pioneered the use of artificial refrigeration, keeping its ice creams frozen in the basement of the Reading Terminal Market, one of the first commercial-sized refrigeration facilities in the world. Today, Bassetts sells its ice cream wholesale to shops and restaurants in Philadelphia and beyond, even shipping ice cream to Beijing.

Unfortunately, some legends belong in the history books. Bassetts has long passed its prime, and it is clear that the shop no longer considers quality a key component of its business strategy. Though crowds flock to the Reading Terminal Market location to try ice cream from the oldest ice cream shop in America, they are eating a generic, poorly crafted product. If Bassetts' founder, Lewis Dubois Bassett, was alive today, he would probably get his scoops at Franklin Fountain, off Market Street in Old City. It is in part to inform our users of shops like Bassetts, whose reputation has long outlasted its quality, that SCOOP Blog reviews ice cream shops.

Unfortunately, Bassetts tastes like a knock-off of Baskin Robbins. Their flavors are bland, seemingly artificial, and poorly crafted. Their ice cream base is nothing special, and is in desperate need of a revamp.

Flavor Tasting Notes

The flavors here are thoroughly generic and uninspired.


This ice cream is neon green, and reeks of artificial almond flavor. Though there are real pistachio bits inside, that is where the pistachio ends. The texture was not bad.


Artificial pink coloring. The flavor was half-decent, with a balanced, real cinnamon flavor. The texture was smooth, but not exceptional.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Good vanilla cream base, although the flavor was relatively muted. The ice cream appears to have flecks of vanilla bean inside. The texture was passable - smooth, though not dense. The cookie dough is cut into small, precise squares. The flavor is bland and the hard texture does not blend well with the ice cream. The chocolate chips in this ice cream are hard, and not particularly tasty.

Final Score: 4/10


51 North 12th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107