Famed Gelato strain breeder clears the air on imposters

Gelato strain

To many, Gelato is a light, airy Italian dessert. To the weed world, the Gelato strain is a legendary cannabis lineage started by Bay Area breeder Mario Guzman aka Mr. Sherbinski. It can be challenging to decipher any cannabis genetics after years of grower networks passing clones, renaming seeds, and more–Gelato has its own complications. This gorgeous plant took off so quickly that eight solidified versions currently grace dispensary shelves and grow room tables.

“People use Gelato anywhere they see fit because it adds value to the product due to its notoriety,” Guzman said in an interview with GreenState. “It’s widely made into hybrids, but more often than not, my genetics are used, and they call it something other than Gelato so they can monetize off the quality without giving credit to the creator of it, me.”

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gelato strain

At this point in cannabis intellectual property law, there are not a lot of ways to know for sure if people have used Gelato in a cross or renamed a clone. Knowing the ins and outs of what the variety looks, smells, and feels like can reveal whether the jar contains Gelato genetics or an imposter. But once you’ve got the looks down, consumers must parse through the numerical legend that has grown around the lineage.

Creating the beloved Gelato strain

Mr. Sherbinksi created Gelato by reversing Sunset Sherbet, where a female plant is given chemicals to produce pollen. Male plants only typically produce pollen. Once reversed, he crossed the now male plant with Thin Mint GSC (formerly Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies). The result was feminized seeds of an indica-dominant cannabis strain with a high as smooth as a glassy lake.

That first run drew a few viable candidates, and Guzman passed four off to friends to try. All of the samples were labeled solely with a number. This process helps breeders track which cuts are performing well and which might not make it to future cultivation rounds. Guzman sent out a few options, only to have them all take off.

“At first, I only knew them by the numbers because it was so good I didn’t even have time to name each one before my friends, and the heads in San Francisco that had access to my flower would unknowingly make those numbers globally famous overnight,” said Guzman. “They added names based on legendary sports players that have the same number jersey as the plant.”

In the early days, Guzman ran Gelato often because it was strong and stable. Each of the mothers stayed healthy, creating lots of clones compared to similar strains in the veg room. Other growers notice this, too.

Easy growing and optimal toking are how the lore of Gelato grew into a strain family, complete with names and numbers. Guzman only gives his seal of approval to six strains in the lineage.

Sherbinski-approved Gelato strains:

  • #25 Barry Bonds
  • #33 Larry Bird
  • #41 Bacio Gelato
  • #43 Gello Gelato
  • #47 Mochi Gelato
  • #49 Açaí Berry Gelato

At this point, many cannabis consumers have a favorite Gelato, including countless hybrids like Moon Made Farms’ Tuscan Gelato (Blue Gelato x Tuscan Dream), which is delightfully grounding. Spotting the difference between the six original Gelato strains might be an expert-level task, but let’s try and break it down into easy mode.

Gelato strain look, smell, and effect

The terpene scent and look of Gelato nugs are similar across the lineage–but there are ways to spot various phenotypes. Gelato is an indica-dominant hybrid, but Gelato strain effects can verge into the balanced hybrid territory or even sativa, depending on the cut and growing methods.

Classic Gelato cannabis flower has deep purple with some kelly green buds, often with some purple, depending on the phenotype. Each has a deep purple color, but Gello Gelato will have the least, according to Guzman. The hybrid cross also has orange hairs in little bunches throughout the crystal-covered flower. As for the smell, this terpene profile is one-of-a-kind.

A novice nose will get sweet, earthy notes from Gelato, but look deeper for a complex combination of scents that call back to the plant’s lineage. Hints of mint, pine, and sweet vanilla blueberry merge in this hybrid strain.

This is regarded as a high THC strain by many, with Guzman reporting as high as 36 percent THC content. Cannabinoid counts aside, people report this variety as effective for chronic pain and body relaxation. These cannabis effects are coveted by many patients and recreational consumers who need to chill out. This could lend to the wild popularity of the Gelato weed family.

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gelato strain

Getting to know the Gelato Family

After getting to know each phenotype, their relation is clear, but each has its differences.

“Think of each one being a different medicine in the cabinet. Not all medicine treats the same ailment. One variety may make you very energized, and the next is sedative and heavy like Bacio Gelato 41,” said Guzman.

There are six Sherbinski-approved Gelato strains, but that doesn’t mean others in the world weren’t created after he released the cross. Guzman believes that much of the U.S. Gelato is the Bacio Gelato 41 strain. It is heavy in the head and very sedating. with prominent aroma and flavors like lavender, vanilla, and pine.

Though Gelato 41 is common, it’s Gelato 33, or Larry Bird, that created another famed GreenState favorite. The beloved Ice Cream Cake strain is a cross of Wedding Cake with Gelato 33 is a top-selling strain in the U.S., and its parents are definitely to thank.

Mochi Gelato, a.k.a. Mochi or Gelato 47, has taken on a life of its own, dropping the Gelato namesake on many dispensary menus. That’s quickly corrected after consuming some and feeling the quintessential Gelato chill. Spot this variety by its coloring. In the right growing conditions, Mochi can grow thick, dense buds with a hefty helping of trichomes and deep, dark purple.

Barry Bonds, or Gelato 25, is a bit more elusive. Though online reviewers claim it has the same relaxed vibes as its brethren, with more vanilla scent and taste than the others. The same goes for Gello Gelato 43, which is reported as the most potent and the hardest to find. It is also said to have the most euphoric effects of the bunch, with an aromatic profile of bubblegum with a gasoline center.

Another lesser-known phenotype is Açaí Berry Gelato 49. The variety is described as tropical and sweet. It is also described as sativa, and very little can be found about it online. When asked about this variety, Guzman said it can be referred to as a sativa “leaning” hybrid. But much of its mystery remains.

The many Gelatos are like Pokemon. Many stoners are looking to catch them all one day–or hit them all. While these beloved phenotypes have gone on to create equally loved varieties, numerical confusion remains.

Gelato strain #45 and 42: who are they?

Those looking into the original Gelato phenotypes may find some not mentioned in this list. Gelato 45 has been described as berry sweet with minor notes of pine, and the effects are said to be giggly. It is also unrecognized by Guzman, who is skeptical about other numbered Gelatos in the world.

“The only way to guarantee that the Gelato you’re smoking is the real deal is if you get it from me,” Guzman asserted. “Not saying it’s not out there, but if you got it from me, that’s the only way I can personally guarantee it.”

The Larry Bird strain is a good indicator that Guzman is onto something. Many reputable sources list Larry Bird as Gelato 42, but that is straight-up wrong. The athletic names come from the star’s jersey number, and Larry Bird was number 33, not 42.
Mr. Sherbinksi himself also says that Larry Bird is Gelato 33; Gelato 42 has never been a thing. The mixup highlights a much more complicated problem in cannabis genetics: misinformation.

Though we’re far from solving cannabis misinformation on the whole, this clears up many longstanding questions about the Gelato strain. Despite some confusion on the numerical front, Gelato is unequivocally beloved by the cannabis world and newcomers alike.

The flower is beautiful, smells good, and elicits coveted mellow effects. Farms are popping Gelato seeds and cutting clones for friends, proving that the line is not only outstanding, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.