For New York-based ice cream company Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, which recently opened a shop in Rice Village, the most important things to consider when creating a new flavor are deliciousness and “eatability.” So how does Kraft macaroni ‘n’ cheese ice cream fall into that?
In celebration of National Macaroni ‘N’ Cheese Day, Van Leeuwen decided to partner with Kraft to produce a “truly nostalgic” and “American in the best way” ice cream flavor, founder Ben Van Leeuwen tells Houstonia.
“Ice cream is extraordinarily nostalgic, particularly in the summer,” says Van Leeuwen. “We’re in the business of making people feel good, and part of that is providing them with a really familiar experience. For me, Kraft was a big part of my childhood, and being able to combine that with ice cream was so exciting.”
And apparently it works? No offense to either of our favorite comfort foods, but we’re a little skeptical (and we’re sure you are too). According to Van Leeuwen, however, cheese works really well with ice cream.
“Cheese is cultured milk and cream,” he says. “It gives you even more of a balmy taste and a wonderful tang. We use cream cheese, sour cheese, crème fraîche, goat cheese, and blue cheese ice cream and parmesan ice cream is actually really good. So this was a no-brainer in terms of it translating really well to ice cream.”
To Van Leeuwen, clean ingredients are an integral part of the company’s M.O. Flavors and are colored without synthetic dyes (for example, turmeric for orange, spirulina for blue, beet juice for pink). The ice cream base is made with real cream and egg yolks (or oat milk, coconut cream, cocoa butter, and coconut oil for the vegan bases), not stabilizers. Kraft also shares this sentiment, making strides towards a mac ‘n’ cheese with no artificial ingredients.
“You might expect that because they’re a classic brand and they’ve been around for a while for them to be not a great label, but they completely mirror our significance of not putting unnecessary stuff in the product,” says Van Leeuwen.
Also available for a limited time this July is Vegan Earl Grey Tea, Vegan Banana Pudding, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Swirl, and Black Cherry Chip flavors.
“We do the specials to keep our customers interested and engaged and to keep the innovation at our headquarters going all the time,” says Van Leeuwen. “We never know what’s gonna end up being popular.”
So, like the Honeycomb flavor Van Leeuwen put out 10 years ago that was meant to last three weeks but became a permanent flavor, the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese flavor might be here to stay.