Devotees of the cult television series Arrested Development know that the Bluth Company owns and runs a frozen banana stand. The fictional stand is on Balboa Pier, in the quintessential beach town of Newport Beach, California. Hollywood found humor in the idea of freezing a banana covered in chocolate and sprinkling it with nuts, but I grew up with the real thing as a summer tradition.
From Arrested Development
You see, frozen bananas exist in real life, and are a tradition on Balboa Island. In fact, frozen bananas were invented here in 1945, or in 1960—depending on who you ask.
All I know is that three generations of my family spent time on this picturesque island (think of a mini-sized version of Nantucket or Block Island), and I remember spending many a sunny summer Saturday sucking on the frozen fruit on a stick.
The frozen banana is a banana on a stick, then frozen and dipped in chocolate and a variety of topping options. Popular choices are sprinkles, nuts and chocolate chips. Beachgoers to Balboa Island can purchase the frozen treat at any number of island establishments, including Dad’s Donuts and Sugar ‘N Spice—both of whom claim to have invented the treat.
Most places you visit aren’t known for inventing even one famous frozen treat, much less two, so the feud is understandable. Local legend has it that Balboa Island is the birthplace of both frozen bananas and the Balboa Bar. The Balboa Bar is a rectangle of vanilla ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and rolled in delicious toppings.
I’ve actually never seen a frozen banana sold outside of the Island. But I can promise you they really exist.