Remember when you were a kid and would hear the jingle of the ice cream truck coming down the street?
Nowadays, we tend to get our ice cream and popsicles from either the grocery store or one of the various ice cream shops around town. Yes, these are great, but what happened to the right to your neighborhood experience that traditional ice cream trucks provided? And again, that jingle?
A new updated version is about to hit the streets of Houston. Susan Sahwani-Garcia, owner of Chocolate Wasted Ice Cream & Treats, originally wanted to open a homemade ice cream mobile eatery, but as she began developing her project and realized how expensive that would be, she decided to start her business as a traditional ice cream truck selling all the classic treats and local products.
"All of the items are prepackaged items," Sahwani-Garcia says. "It's a lot of the old school ice cream, like the Bomb Pops, but the new twist on it was that it was that I would be able to serve pints, and carry Ben & Jerry's and carry those items that you can't get on a regular ice cream truck, as well as the old-fashioned candy bars that you can't find anymore, like the old-school Whatchamacallits and Astro Pops."
Keeping things local is a priority for Sahwani-Garcia. She grew up in the East End and decided to reach out to La Brisa Popsicle Factory, located on Canal Street.
"They have probably been in business since 1980 and what I like about their product is that it is ice cream, but it is all natural products," Sahwani-Garcia says. "So, that's where I am going to get a lot of my fruits ice cream (with or without milk); the coconut, pineapple, mango, watermelon and [there are] even talks about getting something that might be catered more just to our truck."
In addition to the local products from La Brisa, Sahwani-Garcia will also carry Blue Bell vanilla ice cream cups to pair with Saint Arnold Root Beer. Yes, that means you can get a Saint Arnold Root Beer Float from Chocolate Wasted. Every day the truck goes out, , customers can order the root beer kit, which includes a small cup, straw, spoon, ice cream and root beer.
Sahwani-Garcia has approached other vendors in hopes of carrying their products on the truck as well. She has her eyes on the macaron ice cream sandwiches created by Sweet in CityCentre.
Although the current plan is to sell prepackaged items, Sahwani-Garcia still wants to eventually feature homemade ice cream on the truck, even if it takes some time.
"That's where the initial love of it started -- the ice cream machine in the kitchen; coming up with all sorts of creations; and getting some really good feedback. I was just making it out of my kitchen and asking people to try it," Sahwani-Garcia says. "I wanted to have the ice cream truck and be able to scoop the ice cream on the cone and have something different every day. I am still trying to do that. It will just be with the prepackaged stuff until I get there."
Customers can expect a constantly changing lineup of products offered on the truck because she wants to keep things fresh and new for ice cream fans.
Just as she wants to rotate her product lineup, Sahwani-Garcia also wants to update the look of the truck every so often. Right now, her short bus has a vibrant and funky design thanks to two local muralists. The hand-painted truck incorporates an ice cream theme on the outside.
"The cool thing about it is that I don't even have to keep it that way either," Sahwani-Garcia says. "Every year, every six months, if I get tired of it, I can get another artist on board. It's a canvas and it can be changed, and that's another thing that customers can look at and say, 'That's the Chocolate Wasted ice Cream & Treats bus, and hey it's different.' Right now, it's got a hand-painted look and a psychedelic look to it, but it's definitely colorful and they were happy with it, and I was happy with it. We all agreed that it made us happy and want to eat ice cream."
The kick-off event for Chocolate Wasted & Ice Cream Treats will be Friday, August 22, beginning at 6 p.m. at The East End Studio Gallery; the grand opening will be held in conjunction with an art show, Just Ink 4, which features pen and ink works from 40 individuals selected from 42,000,067 submissions.
"Lizbeth Ortiz, the director of the gallery, has been amazingly supportive and really helpful in incorporating that [the truck]," Sahwani-Garcia says. "I approached her about a month ago and told her that I wanted this to be different; I wanted this to really be a business and have a grand opening and get people to come out, see the truck, get excited about it, talk about it. I asked her if there was any way I could do a grand opening there and she was like let me incorporate it with the show that might complement the truck and the idea."
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And if you were wondering (because we were) what Chocolate Wasted will do when the winter season arrives, Sahwani-Garcia says she will stick with the chocolate theme and serve more winter-appropriate desserts.
"I would love to do like hot chocolate and sweets, since we have incorporated the treats in the truck," Sahwani-Garcia says. "Hopefully by the winter time I am going to have it figured out."
Sahwani-Garcia grew up in the East End and remembers her neighborhood's ice cream truck that would roam the streets throughout the afternoons and evenings. She wants to bring back that love for ice cream trucks and share a piece of her childhood with Houston. The most important thing for her, though, is to let people know she is reinventing the ice cream truck and old-school, good humor service.