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Putnam Pantry Candy and Ice Cream Smorgasboard Danvers MA Family Owned and Operated - 3rd Generation!

Posted on: June 4, 2009

2017 update! Last time we visited Putnam Pantry we spied some changes going on, as evidenced by the uncovering of some of the vintage wallpaper that used to decorate this historic candy / ice cream house.

Big news is that we can now add “Cathie’s Cafe”  to what you will find here at Putnam Pantry! I reached out to Cathie Emerson, owner/chef at the Pantry for details.  She and her husband Eric purchased the business 3 years ago (from Eric’s father, whose father -Eric’s Grandfather – started the business originally) so they are now 3rd generation family owners.

Here are some of the changes you will see when you visit Putnam Pantry:

The entryway has been made more accessible and the rest rooms are now on the main level! This is great news for many folks, as previously you had to tread carefully down the well worn linoleum steps to even wash your hands.

Putnam Pantry Route 1 Saugus MA Retro Roadmap Roundup 2015

She reassured me that they had kept the old fashioned charm of the original Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Store, but ALSO  and added a small cafe that serves coffee/espresso, PLUS homemade soups, bakery items, salads and sandwiches.

Hooray for not fixing what wasn’t broken. Their ice cream smorgasbord is what dreams are made of!

Putnam Pantry Route 1 Saugus MA Retro Roadmap Roundup 2015

They have also added an outdoor patio for outside seating ,complete with a koi pond and waterfalls.

“It has been very important to us to keep the original charm that made Putnam Pantry famous, while at the same time giving it the physical updates that it needed so that we may continue to serve customers for at least another 65 years!”

Thank you Cathie and Eric for ensuring the continued legacy of this famous place.

Betty White at Putnam Pantry Route 1 Saugus MA Retro Roadmap Roundup 2015

My original 2009 Post:

As a child Putnam Pantry was the mythical “place we went only once driving up to Grammie’s in New Hampshire, and it was this place where you could make your own sundae and put any toppings you wanted to on it, and as many as you want and it was just the greatest place I loved it and all the candy and ice cream…”
Putnam Pantry

This strong sweet memory was enough to probably make it one of my first road trip destinations when I got my license, and I am happy to say all these years later that the Pantry is going strong and still worth a visit.

Putnam Pantry Route 1 Saugus MA Retro Roadmap Roundup 2015

Built in 1951 in a converted old shoe factory, it is adjacent to the birthplace of General Israel Putnam. He was the guy who made the battle of Bunker Hill famous with his line, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”. The colonial decor is reminiscent of his era, as well as the 50’s when colonial was big as well, especially in New England.

hmm what to have for thankgiving?

They make their own candy downstairs, over 300 kinds, using old New England recipes – hello penuche! My fave part of the pantry however, is the ice cream smorgasbord.
penuche sundae
They have all sorts of ice cream flavors and toppings to choose from, but I have perfected my favorite combination of flavors and rarely stray from that wonderful combo of vanilla ice cream, penuche sauce, whipped cream and coconut macaroon bits. Numma num!

Ice cream parlour table

With it’s home made ice cream, nostalgic ice cream parlor decor and tasty treats Putnam Pantry is one of the places along that famous stretch of Route 1 north of Boston that make a great roadtrip destination. check it out on a sunny day and you won’t be disappointed!

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  • Wendi P

    this was always the last day of school destination for us!!

  • beth cusato

    inquiring as to whether you offer a tour of your facility-our girl scout troop is interested!
    we would love to visit! i am sure we need to pick a date and time for this!
    the girls would get a kick out of making their own sundaes from your ice cream bar!
    we are troop 1274 from reading, ma
    thank you in advance

    • Hello Beth – I’m a Beth too!

      While I wish I worked at Putnam Pantry, I just visit as often as I can. I’ve passed on your message inquiring about a tour to the contact email at their website. Hope they get back to you with good news and you and your Girl Scout troop enjoy the make your own sundaes as much as I do!

    • Dawn

      Hi Beth,
      I’m a current Putnam employee, and I’m sorry to say that we don’t do tours.
      However, most Christmas’ they’ll do special Candy Cane tours and bring groups downstairs to watch how our giant candy canes are made.
      Hope this helps. 🙂

      • Dawn- Thanks so much for adding that info to the thread here, so folks will know about the candy cane tours – I’ll have to put that on my holiday list of things to check out when I’m back up at home. If you think about it, send me the info when the tours begin next season and I’ll post about them here on Retro Roadmap!

  • Stacey

    Glad you covered Putnam Pantry. I worked there for a summer in high school, but didn’t appreciate the decor/history back then.
    Still try to make it there once a year for a sundae. Chocolate chip ice cream with cherry caramel sauce and crushed Oreos is my favorite.

  • Amy J.

    I wish the Putnam Pantry website had more info, like hours, info about the ice cream smorgasbord, etc… I don’t live really nearby and am hesitant to make a spontaneous trip only to find out it’s not open or whatever.

    • Amy- you’re right that many small business websites could be improved – that’s why I always try to include contact information for every post on I see their phone number listed as 978) 774-2383 – why not give them a call to see when they’re open, then you won’t be disappointed when you decide to visit!

  • Kathy ( Keohane) Kelley

    I remember Putnam Pantry as a child, Wonderful Candy and Ice Cream! I used to be friends with Wendy and Kim Emerson riding our horses together..Wonderful Memories…