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Naperville
Friday, August 19, 2022

It’s National Ice Cream Day… remember Cock Robin?

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The third Sunday in July has been designated National Ice Cream Day!

And PN’s thoughts turn to Cock Robin ice cream, gone from the Naperville scene, but definitely not forgotten.

On July 11, PN introduced a new t-shirt featuring the old Cock Robin logo at the Serendipity Shop, a resale shop in downtown Naperville that benefits Little Friends.

And NCTV17’s reporter, Michelle Corless, was on the spot the help tell the story both then and earlier at Fredenhagen Park. The news clip,  “Familiar Bird is Back,” aired Friday evening on cable  Channel 17.

FYI: Not long after the turn of the millennium in 2000, local residents began contacting the late Rita Harvard to plan summer “good bye” parties for the Cock Robin Ice Cream Restaurant, a landmark then located just north of the Washington Street Bridge at the entrance to downtown Naperville and North Central College.

Late in the century, Harvard and her brother Ted Fredenhagen, owners of the property, had announced the popular ice cream and burger enterprise established in 1931 as Prince Castle by their father, Walter Fredenhagen and Earl Prince, would close at the end of summer in 2000.

At the time, the Fredenhagen children were in the middle of turning the property over to the City of Naperville for use as a public park, named to honor both of their parents, Grace and Walter Fredenhagen. Their aim was to create a place to recognize entrepreneurial enterprise, innovative individual initiative and community spirit.

Nostalgia began to set as longtime Napervillians remembered bygone days of sipping Silver Star Soda and sampling square dips of rainbow sherbet, three dips high on a sugar cone. Others recalled enjoying One-in-a-Million milkshakes and steakburgers.

Locals harbored a special place in their hearts for the social center where summer evenings had attracted friends and families to the brainchild of Walter Fredenhagen, the businessman behind the Naperville Creamery, then Prince Castle, and finally Cock Robin.

After Earl Prince died in the early 1950s, Fredenhagen began changing the names of the 23 stores he owned to Cock Robin Ice Cream parlors. The business thrived until the 1980s when competition from much larger fast-food chains and supermarkets cut profits.

Memories of first dates, hanging out after school, sitting along the rock wall of the DuPage River with a triple-decker cone, long walks to Cock Robin from the North Central College girls dorms back in the 60s, and taking breaks from rehearsals in the old Summer Place Tent were just a few of dozens of remembrances recorded recently on Facebook.

Troy Gitzlaff wrote,  “Cock Robin was the best fast food I ever had. Wish they were in Alabama. I could go for a butterscotch One in a Million and a double cheese burger right now.”

During the TexMex Music Fest on July 14, former resident, Stephanie Landry,  reminisced  when she saw the new Cock Robin t-shirt. She recalled annual canoe trips along the DuPage River, times when her family boarded canoes near the Jefferson Street Bridge and stopped at Cock Robin near the Washington Street Bridge on their way down the river. Landry said they always affectionately called the ice cream restaurant the “Naperville Yacht Club.”

It’s heartwarming to know that even today the slogan, “Cock Robin, where memories are made,” brings back, well, memories of the independent family business and pioneering entrepreneurs behind Fredenhagen Park, a showcase of generosity and community spirit.

Wherever ice cream is available in Naperville—Colonial, Cold Stone Creamery, Oberweis Dairy, Dairy Queen, Naper Nuts & Sweets, Haagen Das, Cookie Dough Creations—remember how Prince Castle and Cock Robin whet appetites with the creamy cold square dips for nearly 70 years at the site of Fredenhagen Park.

RELATED STORIES:  Exchange Club Memories Fountain at Fredenhagen Park

Rita Harvard, always one in a million

My Girl Friend

 

 

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.

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