Massachusetts ice cream fans have probably downed their fair share of Fribbles at Friendly’s over the years. They’ve probably also partaken of Awful Awfuls at Newport Creamery. For the Baby Boomer generation and anyone who came along later, it was always clear which ice cream chain had which delicious beverage.

However, there was a time when the Fribble was also called the Awful Awful.

We’ll explain.

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The Awful Awful Was Invented in New Jersey

In 1934, Bond’s Ice Cream first opened up in Montclair, New Jersey, and by the 1940s it was slinging its signature drink – a blend of flavored syrup and ice milk – which was dubbed the “Awful Awful” reportedly after a customer referred to the drink as “awful big and awful good.”

In 1948, Bond’s trademarked the name “Awful Awful,” and later licensed it to Newport Creamery for use in Rhode Island as well as a growing chain in Massachusetts, Friendly’s. Friendly’s had been offering the drink since it opened in 1935, but it began using the “Awful Awful” name after licensing it from Bond’s.

The deal for each included the provision that if either company ever expanded into New Jersey, it would have to change the name of the drink so as not to compete against Bond’s. So when Friendly’s moved into New Jersey in the 1960s, it had to drop the “Awful Awful” name and come up with a new moniker for its signature drink; according to several food history websites, three of the customers who entered suggested “Fribble,” and that was the name chosen.

Did Friendly’s Change the History of the Fribble?

It appears Friendly’s has melted away the “Awful Awful” portion of its history and rewritten how it all went down. A 2021 press release announcing free Fribbles for “Founder’s Day” stated that:

“The legendary Fribble dates back to the 1930s. The name Fribble was created by an employee of Friendly’s Ice Cream who won a contest to come up with a new name for the popular milkshake.”

Friendly’s Did Change the Fribble Recipe, Though

Originally, all three ice cream chains – Bond’s, Newport Creamery and Friendly’s – made the “Awful Awful” out of flavored syrup and ice milk. Friendly’s continued that even after changing the name to “Fribble,” but then in the 1990s changed to using soft serve ice cream instead of ice milk. Later, soft serve was changed to hard serve ice cream, which is what the remaining Friendly’s locations still use today.

You Can Still Get an Awful Awful at Newport Creamery

Bond’s Ice Cream went bankrupt in 1973. Newport Creamery was then able to buy the trademark for the Awful Awful for $1,000, and now it is the only place to get one – and yes, you can still take the Awful Awful challenge, if you think you can drink three of them in one sitting.

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