Inquiries & Responses vol. 09: Little Baby’s Ice Cream Interview
Posted on August 6, 2012
If you’ve been in Philadelphia for almost any kind of event this summer, chances are you’ve heard of Little Baby’s Ice Cream. If you haven’t, but you’ve been online in the last few days, I can guarantee that someone has shown you their latest commercial, which pulled in half a million views since it was posted this week. That’s a third of the population of the City of Brotherly Love, where Pete Angevine, Jeffrey Ziga, and Martin Brown get awesome and make ice cream an experience like no other. Click below for more photos and the interview.
Martin, Jeff, and Pete have been spending their entire summer working to make enough ice cream to fill the enormous demand that they very much deserve. They have been all over Philly in the sweltering heat, riding custom-built tricycles to places like Morgan’s Pier, Love Park, 2nd Street Festival, Kensington Picnic, and nearly every other outdoor event. The gentlemen at Little Baby’s take full advantage of the resources in and close by the city, sourcing all of their 16% butterfat dairy from Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and most everything else through Greensgrow Farm. The trikes are built by Haley Trikes in Philly, and the awnings were made by the great folks at Fabric Horse. You can check out the rest of the extensive list of community partners here on their site.
It took a lot of emailing back and forth, but The American Classic was fortunate enough to get Pete Angevine to answer some questions for us about the origins of Little Baby’s, as well as some insight into the avant-garde attitude that makes their operation so unique.What is the story behind the genesis of Little Baby’s Ice Cream? Pete Angevine: Martin, Jeff and I have all been floating around various corners of the Philadelphia music/art/cultural/etc. universe for some time. When Martin and I discovered through a mutual friend that we were both independently getting pretty good at making Ice Cream at home, and Jeffrey’s insistent joking with me about creating “Peter & Jeffrey’s House of Ice Cream” from the window of his home on North 4th Street became too much to ignore, we all got together over a container of homemade Spicy Chinese Mustard Ice Cream and dreamed about a funny new summer hobby. Turns out the joke is on us because now we all work about 100 hours per week. Oops! What’s the origin of the name “Little Baby’s”? PA: What, you don’t like little babies? What’s the concept behind the imaging of your brand, and the slogan ‘Ice Cream is a Feeling?’ PA: Ice Cream is an emotional experience that nearly all of us can relate to in one way or another. It’s an iconic (American (Philadelphian)) tradition that evokes nostalgia, brings people together and provides a joyful diversion from regular life. Our brand, our flavors, our Music for Ice Cream (check out our Sound Cloud!), our tricycles, etc., are all meant to be a new and skewed version of this familiar, recognizable thing that so many of us grew up with. Little Baby’s Ice Cream is intended to be something that one might expect to find comfort and memories in, but actually has a new, weird experience that is unexpected, jarring, and pleasantly absurd. Any advantages to having a cart versus a truck? Besides fuel, of course… PA: Well, initially we thought of the tricycles because they were far less expensive than a truck, but many advantages have become apparent along the way: we can ride them! We can have several of them out at the same time! Nobody else has a tricycle around here, lot’s of people have trucks! It’s funny! Of course there are a million +1 disadvantages as well, but we try to focus on the positive. Was there an ‘ah-ha!’ moment when you realized you needed to open a brick-and-morter shop? PA: At the end of our very first day of business last year and the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival, it was clear that our biggest barrier was going to be capacity; we couldn’t produce nearly enough Ice Cream to meet the demand. It was a pleasant surprise and we still struggle with it now: we needed our own dedicated (and considerably larger) production facility to keep up. An uncanny opportunity came up when our friends from Pizza Brain were purchasing real estate on Frankford Avenue; one thing led to another and now we’re occupying about a quarter of the space for our production and retail shop. It’s been a wild ride, to be sure and we’re so excited to have a World Head Quarters to base all our operations in, not to mention it happens to be inside what will be the world’s first and only pizza memorabilia museum. What is Little Baby’s relationship with the anticipated museum/restaurant Pizza Brain? PA: We’re buds, we’re neighbors/roommates, we share a similar vision of a much sweeter/weirder world and use food in one way or another to communicate those visions. You’ve been scooping at Union Transfer for a while; any celebrity scoopers? I remember we talked about wanting James Iha to scoop ice cream, ie Smashing Pumpkins’ music video for ‘Today.’ PA: No celebrity scoopers just yet — we couldn’t find James Iha anywhere backstage! He must’ve been cooling out on the bus. But a few nights later Lee Randaldo (of Sonic Youth) got a cone of Bourbon Bourbon Vanilla and 7th Grade Pete’s heart literally exploded. Which flavor is your favorite? PA: Earl Grey Sriracha! Can you tell us about some failed recipes? PA: It’s fair to say that Champagne & Lucky Charms sounds way funnier than it tastes.
I swung by the grand opening of their World Headquarters this past Friday on Frankford Ave in Kensington. The line stretched all the way down the block, but as per grade school rules, you can usually find a friend higher up in the line and act like you’ve been there the whole time. You know you do it too, and all’s fair in love and ice cream.
For reference, here is a list of the rotating flavors available:
- Birch Beer Vanilla Bean
- Cardamom Caramel
- Coffee Toffee (made with Blue Bottle coffee)
- Earl Grey Sriracha
- Bourbon Bourbon Vanilla
- Peanut Butter Maple Tarragon
- Chipotle Chocolate
- Balsamic Banana
- Blueberry Ginger (seasonal)
- Strawberry Pinkpeppercorn (seasonal)
- Red Velvet Spodee Chocolate Swirl
- Vanilla Molasses Goldenberg’s Original Dark Peanut Chews
- Sour Cherry and Honey
- Red Hot Cinnamon
- Cantaloupe Creamsicle
- Hawaiian Pizza
- Coconut Chai
- Mint Cookie
- Banana Chip
- Coconut Tea
- Vanilla Molasses Original Dark Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews
- Earl Grey Sriracha
I have personally tried only a quarter of these flavors, but my favorite sweet flavor is the Red Velvet Spodee Swirl (which you may remember debuted at the Spodee Launch Party earlier this year) and my favorite savory flavor is definitely the Earl Grey Sriracha. In fact, that seems to be the hometown favorite, and if you’ve never thought about savory ice cream then you’re in for a real treat. Get a friend in Philadelphia to pick some up for you at any of these fine retailers.
Finally, watch this right now if you haven’t seen it yet:
Little Baby’s World Headquarters is located at:
2311 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
All illustration work for Little Baby’s Ice Cream was done by Justin Gray.