Ice Cream Mogul Irvine Robbins Dies at 90

'31 Flavors' Grew to 1,000 Over the Years

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NEW YORK ( -- Irvine Robbins, co-founder of Baskin-Robbins, died of natural causes May 5 at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the age of 90.

Mr. Robbins, it seems, was born to scoop ice cream. Hailing from Canada and raised by Eastern European parents in Tacoma, Wash., he worked days at his family's ice cream store. After graduating from the University of Washington and serving in World War II, Mr. Robbins and his brother-in-law and partner, Burton Baskin, each owned ice cream stores that found marginal success. They eventually joined forces, and a dessert icon was born in 1948.

Master innovators at creating unique flavors, Mr. Robbins and his company capitalized on their wide variety of ice cream offerings with the long-running marketing theme "31 Flavors." Created in 1953, the concept also referred to the 31 days of the month, and was debuted the same year that a coin flip determined the order of the partners' names. In the early 1950s, even before that change, the company was one of the first to franchise its stores. Baskin-Robbins was sold to United Fruit Co. in 1967, but Mr. Robbins continued to work for the company before retiring in 1978.

Today, Baskin-Robbins is part of Dunkin' Brands and has more than 5,800 franchises around the globe. According to the company's website, it has created more than 1,000 flavors over the years.

"There was really no such thing anyplace as a pure ice cream store," Mr. Robbins told the Los Angeles Times in 1985. "I just had the crazy idea that somebody ought to open a store that sold ... nothing but ice cream, and could do it in an outstanding way."
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