Top 250 Franchise by Entrepreneur – Rank no.56 – Baskin-Robbins USA Co. – US
Products & Services: Ice cream, frozen yogurt, frozen beverages
Number of Locations: 7,075
Total Investment: $100.69K – 390.2K
Began Franchising: 1948
About Baskin-Robbins USA Co.
As a teenager in the 1930s, Irv Robbins managed an ice cream shop in Tacoma, Washington. Bored with serving traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla, Robbins began experimenting by mixing fruit and candy into the ice cream. After serving in World War II, Robbins bought an ice cream parlor in Glendale, California. Three years later, he convinced his brother-in-law, Burt Baskin, to join the business. The two men flipped a coin to see whose name would go first on the sign. Baskin won, and in 1945, Baskin-Robbins was born.
Today, Baskin-Robbins has locations in more than 50 countries, each serving the company’s famous 31 flavors of ice cream, as well as frozen yogurt, sherbet, cakes and drinks. Baskin-Robbins is part of Dunkin’ Brands Inc., which also franchises Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin’ Brands Inc. is owned by a consortium of private equity companies: Bain Capital, The Carlyle Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners.
Startup Costs, Ongoing Fees and Financing
Franchise Fee: $25,000
Ongoing Royalty Fee: 5.9%
Term of Franchise Agreement: Term of agreement not renewable
Net Worth: $250,000
Liquid Cash Available: $125,000
How This Franchise Supports Franchisees
Franchise Ranking History
|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Industry||Food and Beverage|
|Founded||1945 in Glendale, California|
|Headquarters||130 Royall Street, Canton,Massachusetts, United States|
|Key people||Nigel Travis, Chairman and CEOof Dunkin’ Brands|
The company is known for its “31 flavors" slogan, more than the 28 flavors then famously offered at Howard Johnson’s restaurants, with the idea that a customer could have a different flavor every day of any month. The slogan came from the Carson-Roberts advertising agency (which later merged into Ogilvy & Mather) in 1953. Baskin and Robbins believed that people should be able to sample flavors until they found one they wanted to buy, hence their famous small pink spoons. The company has introduced more than 1,000 flavors since 1945.
Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945 by brothers-in-law Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins from the merging of their respective ice cream parlors, in Glendale, California. It claims to be the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty stores, with more than 6,000 locations, 2,400 of which are located in the United States. Baskin-Robbins sells ice cream in 49 countries. The company has been headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts since 2004 after moving from Randolph, Massachusetts.
The Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlors started as separate ventures of Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins, who owned Burton’s Ice Cream Shop (opened in 1945) and Snowbird Ice Cream (opened in 1946), respectively. Snowbird Ice Cream offered 21 flavors, a novel concept at that time. When the separate companies merged in 1953, the number of flavors was expanded to 31 flavors.
By 1948, Burt and Irv had opened six stores. The first franchise covering the sale of ice cream was executed May 20, 1948 for the store at 1130 South Adams in Glendale (Store #1). In 1949, the company’s production facility opened in Burbank. Burt and Irv made the decision to sell the stores to the managers. In 1953, Baskin-Robbins hired Carson-Roberts Advertising who recommended adoption of the number 31 as well as the pink (cherry) and brown (chocolate) polka dots and typeface that were reminiscent of the circus. The first store that adopted the new 31 look was 804 North Glendale Ave. in Glendale, California in March 1953. Between 1949 and 1962, the corporate firm was Huntington Ice Cream Company. The name succeeded The Baskin-Robbins Partnership and was eventually changed back to Baskin-Robbins, Inc. on November 26, 1962. Baskin-Robbins also was the first to introduce ice cream cakes to the public.  Baskin-Robbins often still incorporates 31 in its promotions despite offering more flavors. For example, in Malaysia this includes giving 31% off their hand-packed ice cream on the 31st of a month, which invariably causes queues at their outlets. See below for the list of original flavors.
Baskin-Robbins was owned by its founders until it was acquired in 1967 (just prior to Burt Baskin’s death) by the United Brands Company (United Fruit). In 1972, the company went public for the only time in its history when United Brands sold 17% in an IPO. A year later, British food company J. Lyons and Co. purchased Baskin-Robbins from United Brands and all public stock. J. Lyons then merged with Allied Breweries, becoming Allied-Lyons in 1978. Allied-Lyons then merged with Pedro Domecq S.A. in 1994, becoming Allied Domecq. Baskin-Robbins, Togo’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts now comprise Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. Dunkin’ Brands was part of Allied Domecq until its purchase in 2006 by a group of private equity firms – Bain Capital, Thomas Lee, and The Carlyle Group.
In 1999, Baskin-Robbins terminated approximately 200 domestic franchisee agreements in Southern markets it deemed “nonstrategic." These shop owners were notified of the agreement cancellation via a conference call. Over 40 former franchisees united to form a new company, KaleidoScoops, which operates as a cooperative, and is based in Austin, Texas. Other former Baskin-Robbins franchisees converted their stores to franchises of McConnell’s (of Santa Barbara, California), and The Ice Cream Club.
Original 31 flavors
- 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream Just for You (1945-March 3, 1985, with the exception of 1954-1955, 1964–1965, 1969–1970, and 1974–1976)
- Celebrating 10 Years of Ice Cream with 31 Fun Flavors (1954–1955)
- Celebrating 20 Years of Ice Cream in 31 Fun Flavors (1964–1965)
- Celebrating 25 Years with 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream (1969–1970)
- 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream for 30 Years (1974–1975)
- 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream for 31 Years (1975–1976)
- Look Alive in ’85 with 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream (March 4, 1985-September 13, 1985)
- 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream for the Eighties (September 14, 1985-July 31, 1986)
- Celebrate with Ice Cream and More Fun (August 1, 1986-September 30, 1987)
- Trust the #1 Ice Cream in the World with 31 Fun Flavors (October 1, 1987-September 8, 1988)
- Trust the Number 31 for 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream (September 9, 1988-March 31, 1991)
- 31 Fun Flavors of Ice Cream That’s #1 in ’91 (April 1, 1991-September 9, 1991)
- The Place That’s #1 for Ice Cream and Fun in the Nineties (September 10, 1991-August 4, 1992)
- Have Fun with 31 Flavors in the Nineties (August 5, 1992-September 13, 1993)
- 31 Flavors At Their Best (September 14, 1993-September 7, 1994)
- 31 Flavors of Ice Cream and More (September 8, 1994-September 5, 1995)
- Let’s Celebrate with Ice Cream and More (September 6, 1995-September 9, 2000)
- YAY! (September 10, 2000–Fall 2010)
- More Flavors, More Fun (July 2010 – present)