The Sweet Hereafter

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A few months back, the savory apparition began haunting the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s restaurant. Borne on a waiter’s fingertips, if one’s eyes, nose and taste buds did not deceive, was a vanilla sundae smothered in--no, it couldn’t be!--C.C. Brown’s hot fudge sauce. Doubtless a few Roosevelt regulars dashed across the street to see if the legendary C.C. Brown’s ice cream parlor, which closed in June 1996, had likewise resurrected itself. No such luck. A faceless T-shirt emporium still squatted upon its former home.

From 1929 to 1996, two enormous copper kettles at 7007 Hollywood Blvd. bubbled hot fudge and caramel sauce for the distinguished palates of stars from Mary Pickford to Marlon Brando to Judd Nelson. Three summers ago, after the parlor served its last sundae, the kettles picked up and left for Calabasas--yet one refused to retire.

The C.C. Brown’s hot fudge formula is an oral tradition that has outlasted even C.C. Brown’s itself. “The original recipe came from C.C. Brown Sr., who made all the sauces,” says Tim Schumacher, the 33-year-old son of C.C. Brown’s last owner. “He taught it to his son, C.C. Brown Jr., who taught it to my dad, John Schumacher Jr., who taught it to a couple of us kids. No original recipe was ever written down. It just passed from person to person.” Only Tim and his sister Heidi, both chiropractors, and their trumpeter-brother, Ted, can orchestrate the transformation of Ghirardelli cocoa and cream into C.C. Brown’s hot fudge. (Their father passed away in 1994.)


After the kids’ mom, JoEllen, closed the parlor, the family received the inevitable paeans: letters, often in an octogenarian’s shaky script, telling of first dates and Hollywood High football victories celebrated over a silver goblet. But the Schumachers also began fielding hot fudge orders over C.C. Brown’s not-yet-disconnected phone line. By July, the Lawry’s chain requested the sweet sauce for its Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and Tam O’Shanter restaurants, so the family kept churning it out. The Roosevelt followed suit earlier this year, and now Gelson’s and Bristol Farms sell C.C. Brown’s fudge in 10-ounce jars.

Perhaps the purest C.C. Brown’s experience can be attained virtually. Heat some fudge in the microwave, pour it over a bowl of plain vanilla and log onto to view photos of the vanished store’s fanciful neon sign and Victorian wallpaper, and, naturally, to e-mail orders for fudge.