Words & Photos by Ronnie Cline

There are many ways to beat the summer heat in the Sacramento area these days. However, only a few can capture the nostalgia of a timeless era like Hagen’s: The Original Orange Freeze. Located on the corner of Walnut and El Camino avenues in Carmichael, Orange Freezes have been flowing out of this location since 1965 when it was called Merlino’s. Two former employees of Merlino’s purchased the business, and the tradition of an Orange Freeze to beat the Sacramento heat continued.

I arrived at Hagen’s a little after 11 a.m. on a Saturday and just beat the rush of grandparents, grandkids and Little Leaguers. Immediately upon entering, I was taken back to when I was a kid. The appropriately orange contoured booths were spotless, as was the whole restaurant.

I wanted to try a mix of everything, so I ordered both a BLT and the Hagen Burger with a side of fries and, of course, a freeze. On the recommendation of one of the friendly teenage staff, I went with a combo of classic orange, pineapple and strawberry. Served overflowing, with a spoon jammed into the side of the frozen orange dome, the treat begged to be eaten right away, but I wanted to eat my freeze with my order. I was a little concerned it would start melting, but to my surprise the freeze holds up for longer than expected, making them perfect for taking to a park or pool.

After my order arrived, I settled into my booth and took my first bite of the sweet, creamy, tart Orange Freeze and knew I would be back many times over the summer months. This dairy-free treat is made with fresh squeezed orange juice, unlike other freezes in the area, and it really makes a difference. I was planning on ordering a straight-up Orange Freeze, but found opting for a mix of flavors is the way to go. The layers of freeze did not melt into each other as fast as typical ice cream, which made selecting a flavor or mixing them enjoyable.

As soon as it came out, I knew that the Hagen Burger was going to be special, and it did not disappoint. The burger was served on a toasted sesame seed bun with gooey American cheese, thousand island dressing, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and an onion ring to top it off.

This was one of the best family-picnic-style burgers I’ve had in a long time. The produce was unbelievably fresh and crisp and the steak fries that came with the burger were piping hot, and cooked perfectly. As the fries were served, I was asked if I wanted a side of ranch for dipping and of course said, “yes,” which added to the throwback feeling Hagen’s emanates.

Loaded with bacon and slathered with mayonnaise, the BLT was also satisfying. The sandwich’s crisp lettuce and fresh tomatoes balanced out the savory bacon perfectly. The bacon was not overcooked but had just enough crispness that I expect when it comes to BLTs. Only eating half of the BLT and Hagen Burger at the restaurant, I packed up the rest of the food that I had future meal plans for, but I must confess that the second half of the BLT did not make it home.

As I left Hagen’s Orange Freeze, I stopped by their patio to finish my frozen treat. The layers were still holding strong as the summer heat was creeping in. I found myself planning my next trip back to Hagen’s before I left. The idea of watching the world go by while cooling off in the summer warmth with an Orange Freeze sounds like something I can get used to.

Open everyday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hagen’s is located at 2520 Walnut Ave. in Carmichael. For more on Hagen’s, go to Hagensorangefreeze.com.

**This piece first appeared in print on page 20 of issue #295 (July 3 – 17, 2019)**