woolworth's icebox cheesecake

Woolworth’s Lemon Icebox Cheesecake

As a small child in the 1960s, living in a very small town in the Coal Region (in Schuylkill County), it was a big adventure to “go over to Pottsville” (PA) with my Mom for a day of shopping and lunch in what was then a typical, small city bustling downtown.

We made our way from Sears across the street to Pomeroy’s, then up and down Centre Street. We would walk and window shop and just enjoy time together.  And, oh, what a  marvelous day it was when the trip included a stop at the S & H Green Stamp store to turn in a fistful of filled books for… ANYTHING!!

When lunch time rolled around, I absolutely loved stopping by one of the several eateries in Pottsville (I adored club sandwiches at The Sugar Bowl on Market St.) and I delighted in sitting on a stool and swiveling (in only the way kids can do) at “the lunch counter” found in stores like H.L. Greens and Woolworth’s.

H. L. Greene’s lunch-counter, 9 N. Centre Street, Pottsville, PA
Downtown Pottsville, Pa. (looking North) and Woolworth’s (far right) on Centre Street

Now, I don’t remember a lot about Woolworth’s in Pottsville except I remember me sitting with my Mom at that lunch counter. The memories are vivid and oh, how I miss those days and how I miss my Mom.  If you have eaten at a Woolworth’s lunch counter, you may have had this dessert (aka Woolworth’s Lemon Icebox Cheesecake).

This recipe is great for a pot-luck or gathering. It is light, and luscious, and totally  addicting.

Woolworth’s Lemon Icebox Cheesecake

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: DessertCuisine: Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy




  • 1 – 12 ounce can evaporated milk, very well chilled

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted (1 stick)

  • 1 – 3 ounce box lemon gelatin

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • 1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Several hours before prep, shake the can of evaporated milk and refrigerate until very well chilled.
  • In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin completely in the boiling water. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  • In another bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, confectioners sugar, and melted butter. Reserve 1/3 cup of the mixture for the topping. Press the remainder firmly into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch dish. Refrigerate or put in the freezer until needed.
  • In another large mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon juice (or vanilla) until smooth and creamy. Beat in the cooled gelatin until well blended. Refrigerate mixture for now.
  • Shake the can of chilled evaporated milk again and pour into another large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed of mixer until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. It should have the consistency of beaten egg whites. Beat in the cream cheese/gelatin mixture.
  • Pour mixture over the chilled crust. Sprinkle top with the remaining crumb mixture. Refrigerate for several hours before cutting into squares.


  • Make sure to use full fat evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk) when making this.