By Chris Rotolo |
Bold and experimental flavors are a trademark of the Garden State’s culinary scene, but according to some of the Two River area’s top ice cream distributors, one buzz-worthy offering sweeping through northwestern New Jersey has little chance of finding its way down the coastline.
The internet was aghast earlier this month when Windy Brow Farms in Fredon Township revealed its Taylor ham-flavored ice cream, infusing bits of salty and savory breakfast meat into the creamy dessert mix.
To offset salty pork roll, the Windy Brow dairy farmers incorporate maple syrup and French toast fragments into the concoction.
But it’s not enough to win over one local vendor, who believes the combination to be nothing more than a trendy abomination.
“I think it’s a fad and a marketing ploy to get people through the door,” said Emily Ruane, the manager of Crazees, an ice cream institution at 2 West River Road in Rumson.
Ruane likened the notion of pork roll ice cream to that of internet content with intriguing headlines and little substance. It’s a frowned upon tactic known as “click bait,” used to create website traffic. But in the case of frozen ice cream treats, it can be referred to as “lick bait.”
“I’m positive it’s just a promotional scheme to get people in the place to actually buy something else,” Ruane added. “People will taste it, but there’s no way anyone would actually pay money for pork roll-flavored ice cream.”
Kevin Valerio, the owner of the latest Strollo’s Lighthouse franchise in the Belford section of Middletown at 83 Leonardville Road, compared pork roll ice cream to another thought-provoking and stomach-turning creation out of Enniscrone, Ireland.
Michael O’Dowd, owner of Gelati Enniscrone & Ballina, took his fandom of English pop star Ed Sheeran to a new, highly questionable level, when he recently unveiled his Heinz ketchup-flavored ice cream.
The unsavory dessert offering was created in honor of Sheeran, who has boasted his adoration for the condiment by having the Heinz label tattooed on his arm.
However, Valerio is confident that neither Taylor pork roll nor Heinz ketchup are flavors that will find their way into Two River-area ice cream parlors.
“I’ve seen the pork roll, I’ve heard of the ketchup flavor – which I hope is not real – and I actually had a customer at our Red Bank location ask me recently about doing a bacon flavor, and I just laughed,” Valerio said. “I can say with confidence that these are flavors that will never happen at the Lighthouse and I’m not sure they’ll ever catch on in the Jersey Shore area.”
For Ruane and Valerio, experimentation is a large part of keeping the ice cream vending business interesting.
Strollo’s Lighthouse features a “flavor of the week,” most recently providing customers with a cannoli cream option.
Crazees is well-known for its unique selections, with flavor offerings like Blueberry Pie, which includes bits of real blueberries and piecrust. There is the Elvis Presley, a chocolate chip ice cream with peanut butter bits and banana pieces, and even an edible cookie dough cone.
But both Ruane and Valerio are in agreement that a line needs to be drawn at breakfast meat products and saucy condiments.
“I just can’t envision it being anything close to appetizing,” Valerio said. “We have a ton of flavor of-the-week ice creams and we like to stretch and come up with some interesting ones, but when you start incorporating bacon, ketchup and pork roll into your soft ice cream, it’s a recipe for disaster.”
“We’ve never had anyone come in here and ask for anything along those lines,” Ruane said. “Some businesses will try gimmicky things, but we live in a great area for ice cream. The businesses around here don’t need gimmicks to get customers. We just make quality ice cream.”
This article first appeared in the May 17-24, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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