It used to be that there were intriguing buildings on the side of the road everywhere you looked. There were orange shaped juice stands and dinosaur shaped gas stations. Roadside attractions are slowly fading away, but the ice cream cone shaped soft serve stand, Twistee Treat, is building new roadside attractions, continuing the tradition.
There is a new Twistee Treat ice cream stand being built on US 19 just south of Spring Hill Drive. There is an existing stand at Mariner Square on highway 50. Twistee Treat locations can be found throughout Florida and Texas. You can tell if it is a franchise store or a corporate owned store by the cone, if the cone has a chocolate dip and LED colored "sprinkles" it is a corporate store. The Hernando stores have a chocolate dip.
Twistee Treat offers their own soft serve ice cream in three flavors: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. They also offer twistee light which has no sugar or fat. In addition, to their soft serve flavors Twistee Treat also offers ice cream in nineteen premium flavors. You have your choice of cones or a cup. There are a number of topping and dips to add to your ice cream. In addition to ice cream they carry milk shakes, slushies, and hot dogs.
Twistee Treat was founded in Fort Myers in 1983 by several former McDonald's officials and franchisees. They believed that their unique design and simple menu would lead to success. They created the original ice cream cone shaped buildings by assembling 19 pieces of fiberglass at their facility outside of Fort Myers.
In 1986, Twistee Treat tried to buy the Carvel stores for more than $80 million in cash. Carvel rejected the offer. It is said that the deal unraveled based on a disagreement over the amount of cash deposit that would be required and Mr. Thomas Carvel's concerns over whether Twistee Treat could obtain financing and remain viable.
There have been a number of companies that have acted under the name of Twistee Treat. The original corporation filed for bankruptcy when its founder retired in 1989. The assets were then sold at auction. In 1996, Don Matthews, owner of Soft Serve System, Inc. reorganized the company.
There have been several designs for the signature cone building since Twistee Treat was founded. The Twistee Treat Corporation managed to obtain several patents for their prefabricated ice cream cone buildings. Some of the existing Twistee Treat buildings have been moved to new locations.
Not everyone was a fan of the ice cream cone shaped building. Several local governments created ordinances to prevent the "Southern California Type Building" from being built in their area, including Winter Haven in the 80's. The term "Southern California Type Building" seems to refer to stores shaped like products.
Twistee Treats in Florida are clustered in Central Florida's more metropolitan areas: Orlando and Tampa Bay. There are six upcoming locations along the east coast and none whatsoever in South Florida. There is a total of 18 existing locations and 14 upcoming locations in Florida.
In today's world, where box stores dominate the commercial landscape, it's nice to see a franchise that constructs interesting buildings.