Pensupreme was the trade name of Penn Dairy; which originated in Lancaster County. The dairy had restaurants referred to as “Pensupreme Shoppes” which served food and ice cream. They also branched into “Grocerettes” which were basically convenience stores in various places around eastern PA. The main milk processing plant was in York, PA. In Berks County, there was one “Shoppes” style restaurant/ice cream place located on Lancaster Avenue on the border of Shillington, Kenhorst and what is considered Reading proper. Berks also had various convenience stores all over the county. The restaurant was more specifically located at what is now 800 Lancaster Avenue, right where it splits into route 625. The building is long gone and a Citizens Bank stands on the grounds where it once stood.

Intersection of Lancaster Ave and 625 in 1958

Penn Dairies was formed in 1929 but the name Pensupreme was not used until 1946. Over the course of the next decade the company branched like wildfire throughout Lancaster, Berks, York and Lehigh counties. By the 1960s they were marketing and distributing dairy products all over the mid-Atlantic states.

Inside Pensupreme in Shillington in 1957

Pensupreme served typical diner fair; hamburgers, fries and all sorts of ice cream treats. It was a typical Americana hangout spot for teens and kids in the era in which in existed. Pensupreme had a few specials when it came to dessert time. You might remember the “Pigs Dinner” which 8 scoops of ice cream, with many toppings and served in a wooden trough. Another option was “The Thing” which also had 8 scoops of ice cream along with syrups and bananas around the sides of what it looked a big brandy glass. If you ate the entire thing in one sitting it was free!

Photo from Pensupreme facebook page

In 1989 Getty Petroleum Corp. purchased the remaining 65 Pensupreme convenience store chain locations for $14.9 million. There were 10 convenience store locations in Berks that were a part of this purchase. Eventually, they were all changed to Getty’s branding.

The Many Signs of Pensupreme

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Shortly after in 1990 Penn Dairy was sold to Crowley Foods of Binghampton, New York. So ended the reign of Penn Dairy. The Pensupreme trade name continued to be used for a while but at some point fell into obscurity.

Source: MCall, John F. Garber Obituary,

If you have any images of the Pensupreme on Lancaster Ave or any of the convenience stores I would love to add them to this article- [email protected]

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

12 Replies to “Pensupreme”

  1. Thanks for the memory. I lived a block away from “Pennsies” as we called it. Spent many summer nights in the store. I tried most flavors, but my fave was black raspberry. They also had milk delivery trucks at one time. It was a great place for a burger or a sundae.

  2. Nice presentation Lady… Jerry Williams here in Denver Colorado, and worked right behind Pensupreme on New Holland road, at Reading Buick’s Used Car lot, aside of Kurtz Bros. Concrete…I spent numerous lunches and evenings at that location…Good reporting…excellent site…[email protected] 😁😷

  3. The Pensupreme located on Lancaster Pike, was also the distribution point for their dairy products in Berks, having close to 10 delivery routes, in the area. My father was a route driver back in the 60’s until they closed shop. Remember him bringing the truck home on occasions, to get an early start, like 2 AM and sometimes getting finished 12 plus hours later.

  4. I just found your web site, and it is fascinating to me. I grew up in Reading from 1972 to 1991, then relocated south to Tennessee. I worked at the PennSupreme on Greenwich St. and Rt 183 for about a year, so this article finally explained to me what happened tot he franchise. Until now, I never know.

  5. I now work at Central Family Restaurant, 400 North George Street, York,PA. Which from what I understand started as York Sanitary Milk. Which eventually became Penn Supreme (?) . If anyone has any information about the above locations history, would greatly appreciate any and all. Thanks

  6. I worked there three summers, but can’t remember if it was starting in 1965 or earlier, during high school or into college. I worked my way up from busboy to takeout dipper to the freezer guy who donned winter clothes and boots, received the ice cream tubs and novelty shipments from the plant, filled wholesale orders and loaded the Popsicle Pete trucks! Doc was the manager. I became the highest paid part timer at $1.60/hour!
    I remember when they were still giving away The Thing for free if you could finish it, but that ended by my second summer. One perq I took advantage of was all the ice cream you could eat. My favorites were hot fudge sundaes and my custom shake made with 4 scoops of premium vanilla, malted milk powder, raw egg and just enough milk to make it easier to mix it on the mixer. So thick I had to use a spoon.
    Pensupreme ice cream was the best. Even its regular was as good as the best of today’s premium — high fat content, not too much sugar and very low overrun (look it up) which gave it an amazingly creamy mouth feel. And I’d wager they made it with either Jersey or Guernsey cows and real flavorings, no artificial. It’s terrible that it was not managed well enough to survive.

  7. Worked at the Lancaster Ave.. location from 1967 through 1970. Started as busboy but quickly was made a fountainman. Loved making the Thing, the Battleship, the Pig Pen and banana splits. When I saw 2 kids were sharing a sundae, I would add a second cherry so each would have one. Made so many great friends of other kids who worked at the store. Great hangout place, also.

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