There’s something undeniably magical about ice cream––the creamy consistency, the smooth texture, the coolness that sends shivers of bliss through your entire body.
Quite frankly, it’s heaven on a spoon.
And whether you’re five or one hundred and five, most people would agree that dipping into a pint is like opening a gateway to paradise.
It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, one that continues to flourish in the face of diet trends and economic struggles––and with good reason. For ice cream isn’t just ice cream; it’s an experience and an escape, like a taste of childhood, when things were simpler and all that really mattered was that next lick and catching the drips of melted goodness before they escaped your tongue. When choosing the flavors was a conundrum that could last forever and watching scoops curl the dairy delight into dense balls was like watching gold being mined.
Obviously, the allure of ice cream has only been heightened by the advent of molecular gastronomy and the plethora of unusual ingredients that have been introduced in unusual ways, when bone marrow ice cream might be paired with seared steak on a plate because––well, why not? And bacon in ice cream? Heck, yeah. We’re no longer boxed in by traditional assortments; rather, ice cream has become a new frontier of flavor, and even the foodiest of foodies will drop big bucks to try a new temptation and readily raise a cone in celebration of their latest find as they Tweet and post to tell all about The Next Big Thing.
Maybe it wasn’t being The Next Big Thing that drove native New Yorker Diana Hardeman to try her hand at churning her own pints of milky magic; but when she started cranking them out in 2009, she was, quite unbeknownst to her, taking her very first dip into a whole new career.
As a former financial consultant with a future set on-course toward clean technology, Hardeman was hardly what one might consider to be the quintessential ice cream maker. But she did possess two very essential ingredients to the equation when it came to starting a boutique business––a passion for her product and an entrepreneurial spirit.
And so, drawing on her desire to find a better pint of ice cream, she took fresh, locally sourced ingredients and churned them into her very first batch of MilkMade Ice Cream. “I wanted to make something with flavors that suited my more adventurous palate, so I decided to buy a little machine and make the ice cream myself,” Hardeman says.
The first flavor she tried? Peanut butter. “It was delicious and extremely creamy,” recalls Hardeman, who––after 25 years of eating ice cream on a daily basis––has certainly tried and tasted enough to know a good thing when she sees…or eats…it. “Still, I would definitely say that MilkMade’s current peanut butter flavor has come a long way from that first pint.”
Now, six years after making that first pint, MilkMade has become a brand sought by some very serious ice cream enthusiasts in the New York City area, where Hardeman doles out her dairy decadence in small batch orders to the members of her growing tribe. Each month, they wait expectantly for the deliveries of two very unique flavors, clearing out freezer space for the new additions to their households, waiting with spoons aloft as the pints are opened to reveal her very latest creations of creamy, dreamy ingenuity.
For those whose demands run higher than the monthly delivery cycle, Hardeman has the Tasting Room, where six signature flavors are featured daily, selling scoops of such off-the-wall flavors as O Christmas Tree, a pine needle flavored ice cream packing a punch of candied cranberries; a caramelized ramp ice cream called Ramps; and Two Snaps and a Hay, made of toasted hay and gingersnaps. They are, in Hardeman’s words, “All delicious.”
Judging by the successes of MilkMade’s unexpected flavors, that sentiment is shared by a wide range of enthusiastic eaters, everyone from the suit-and-tie set to college students. Still, Hardeman’s favorite flavor thus far has been Salted Caramel. “It’s the one flavor that I can demolish by the pint-full in one sitting,” she admits. “Ours is really light, perfect in texture, and has just the right amount of sea salt––so one spoonful turns into the next…”
And the next, and the next…
MilkMade’s monthly membership never repeats a flavor, which has the benefit of keeping things fresh, surprising, and new; the downside, though, would be that once you’ve found what you may think is your perfect match, you won’t see it again on rotation.
Evil genius? Perhaps. But it does keep them coming back for more to find out what’s next, to seek out the next spoonful with the anticipation of a child waiting for Santa at Christmas.
Or a pilgrim at Thanksgiving…“We had one customer who suggested that we make a Thanksgiving Dinner ice cream. Complete with candied turkey!” Hardeman exclaims.
Regardless of the wide range of flavors she creates and the many ways that her clients may vary, one thing remains the same: “We get great feedback on almost every flavor we try,” Hardeman reports. “These are all people who love ice cream, and they love MilkMade Ice Cream. In fact, one couple even told us that MilkMade is the best part about living in New York City. Now that’s pretty cool,” she boasts.
With designs on becoming a national brand, MilkMade seems well on its way to accomplishing Hardeman’s goal to “serve the needs of ice cream enthusiasts across the country.” She’s had a taste of success, and with every years that passes, it’s only gotten sweeter. “Life has been an adventure,” Hardeman says. “Tremendous work, tremendous fun, and plenty of ice cream.”
For more information on MilkMade Ice Cream, visit www.milkmadeicecream.com