GILROY (CBS SF) — A festival with a food item so popular McDonald’s is now testing it in some of its South Bay restaurants kicked off Friday in Gilroy.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival, based on the city’s world-famous garlic, started at 10 a.m. in Christmas Hill Park where the menu consists of some interesting items such as garlic chocolate, garlic watermelon, garlic wine and garlic ice cream, which organizers say cannot be missed.

“It feels cool and creamy and sweet,” festival President David Reynolds said. “What lingers is the burn of garlic on the back of your tongue and that’s how you know it’s garlic ice cream.”

Only free samples of the ice cream are available but the ice cream can be bought at LJB Farms at 585 Fitzgerald Ave. in San Martin, a community just outside Gilroy, visitors services associate Patty Shoop said.

Other items on the menu include garlic calamari, garlic bread, garlic scampi and the garlic fries that have inspired a version being tested at the Golden Arches.

“Most everything has garlic in it so you have to be a garlic lover,” Reynolds said. “We have all of the things that everyone loves each year.”

The festival runs through Sunday. General admission tickets are $20. Parking is $10.

The festival ends at 7 p.m. each day but admission ends at 6 p.m.

New this year is a Champions of Charity event where four teams of first responders compete for a $3,000 prize that the winning team can give to the charity of its choice.

Sunday is the last day of the Garlic-Que BBQ Challenge, which is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the world’s largest group of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts.

Saturday is the professional competition and the amateur cook-off is on Sunday.

The heart of the festival is in Gourmet Alley where chefs put on a fiery show while cooking up scampi and calamari in large iron skillets.

“That’s always a show in and of it itself,” Reynolds said.

Volunteers will be cooking other favorites.

The festival includes music and a children’s area as well as an amateur Great Garlic Cook-Off on Saturday.

Professional chefs compete on Sunday in the Garlic Showdown.

Visitors consume more than two tons of garlic each year and since 1979 more than 4 million people have attended the festival.

More information can be found at or by calling (408) 842-1625.