It's a fact that fans of It's-It ice cream sandwiches will go to great lengths to acquire them. I've known former Bay-Area-ians to pool their funds on the cost of overnighting a box to Portland—for a birthday party or just to squirrel away in their freezers. But the Kenton neighborhood now has a new supplier of the rich, creamy oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich—hand-letter sign painters, Jeffrey Sincich and Josh Stover of J&S Signs.
Created in 1928 and sold exclusively at San Francisco's Playland amusement park for 45 years, It's-It has always been packaged with a sense of short supply. Though New Seasons used to carry a few of the flavors, the sandwiches have since disappeared from the freezer cases.
Longtime friends and self-taught sign painters from Florida, Sincich and Stover found themselves dreaming of the treats during long days in their storefront studio in the Eliot neighborhood.
"I had my first one at the end of a bike tour to San Francisco," Sincich says. But he credits Stover with the idea to actually front the price of shipping so they could sell them in their small shop. The street didn't have a ton of foot traffic so drop-ins were infrequent. At first, the idea was just to have them on-hand so the sign painters could have them for themselves.
But Sincich mentioned they were going to start selling them on the J&S Instagram account and two days later thirty people showed up. When they realized others shared their enthusiasm, they created a separate account and founded the Portland It's-It Club, even playing around with drawings and designs of the beloved frozen treat. It's-It—who loves the fact that J&S sell their sandwiches—put the kibosh on their self-made versions of It's-It t-shirts, but they managed a compromise: J&S now sells actual It's It stickers and hats displaying the branded logo. They also have a wide variety of flavors on-hand: original, strawberry, mint, cappuccino, matcha, pumpkin and more!
Through the process, they also got to know another distributor of It's-It in Portland, Apizza Scholls on SE Hawthorne. "I used to talk to Brian Spangler on the phone for like an hour about It's-It," Sincich says. "I don't know how you do that, but we did."
In January, J&S moved up to North Portland's Kenton neighborhood and though they're a little off the beaten path (and selling the It's-It behind a plexiglass barrier) they still hope the sandwiches will bring in new faces.
"People see the sign in the window and say, 'You don't really sell these do you? I haven't had one of these in ten years. I can't believe it. This is so much fun!'" Sincich says.
Right now, J&S Signs aren't keeping regular hours so it's probably best to drop an email and check when they'll be in their studio. Or if you live in Kenton, J&S are just down the street from Parkside, which Takeout Club recently reviewed. Cruise on past for a serendipitous ice cream snack. Or buy 30 and hide them in your freezer. It's-It is always in high demand.
J&S Signs, 2030 N Willis, jandssignpainters.com