Sugar ‘N Spice is the original Newport Beach banana stand. It became pop-culture famous after being fictionalized in the television show “Arrested Development” as the Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand. The real thing has been around since 1945 (and probably doesn’t have thousands of dollars hidden in the walls). Beware: there are several imitators up and down Marine Avenue.
The stand is a simple beach walk-up confectionery. You can get soft serve or hard scooped ice cream cones, sundaes, hot dogs, lemonade, and soft pretzels. Sugar ‘N Spice is most famous for hand-dipped bananas. You can get a frost-hardened banana with dairy-free chocolate flavored coating, real dark chocolate, peanut butter flavored dip, or a bright waxy cherry coating. Dark chocolate tastes the best, but the fake chocolate is the most traditional, and doesn’t overwhelm the banana as much, so we recommend the choco-coating for your first time.
After dipping, you get a choice of chunky topping that will be cast in the coating before it dries. Rainbow sprinkles are a popular choice, and they add a nice texture, but we can’t resist the combination of bananas, chocolate and nuts. We love them with peanuts or almonds. Heath bars, Oreos and flaked coconut are among other choices to add crunch to your banana. There are sauces, too, such as salted caramel and marshmallow Fluff, which are combined with Graham crackers to create a s’more-flavored finish.
Frozen bananas are great for warm Southern California days; and unlike ice cream, they don’t melt as you walk. But if you are quick on the bite, you might prefer a Balboa Bar. This is basically an Eskimo Pie on a stick, but dipped and topped to order. A Balboa Bar with chocolate ice cream and peanut butter dip is particularly delicious, something like a frozen, inside-out Reese’s.
If you’re really hungry, Sugar ‘N Spice offers full portions of dessert. Large slices of cheesecake or tiramisu take a dip in your choice of shell and topping. These are serious sucrose commitments, and we couldn’t imagine finishing one, but if you’re the kind of person who considers taffy apples a fruit salad, try one. The cheesecake and mascarpone on the tiramisu have an icy texture when frozen, much like the bananas that made this place famous.
Sugar ‘N Spice is mostly about sweet things. But what about spice? Well, if variety is the spice of life, there are probably hundreds of different coating and topping combination possibilities for your banana. It’s best to approach building a frozen banana with child-like whimsy and try something new every time.