It started in a Brooklyn apartment one night last summer when Ben Van Leeuwen, his wife, Laura O’Neill and Peter Van Leeuwen decided to create a unique brand of ice cream. Having noted that ice cream just “didn’t taste the way it used to” because of the excess use of gum base and corn syrup the trio started testing alternative ways to “make ice cream the right way.” They narrowed the ingredients down to four (and some flavor-saucing): milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. And now, a year later, the Van Leeuwens‘ have three ice cream trucks and one cart situated in New York City and Brooklyn.
StyleCaster had a moment to chat with Laura O’Neill outside the flagship truck on Prince and Greene. There, we learned the face behind the brand is just as sweet as the ice cream itself.
SC: What is your favorite summer treat?
Laura O’Neill: My favorite non-dessert is a crisp asparagus salad, I’ve been growing vegetables in my garden all summer. But for sweets, I love the Van Leeuwen ginger and mint chip flavors.
SC: What is your favorite summer tradition?
L.O.: I’m from Australia so I love barbeques with friends, but we grill, not fry.
SC: Where are the trucks usually situated?
L.O:. We always have one truck on Prince and Greene, the other two are usually either at the Highline or on Bedford in Willamsburg. We also travel to movie sets and concerts.
SC: What makes Van Leeuwen stand apart from other ice creams?
L.O.: A lot of things, our traditional method for one. The purity of our ice cream, the huge window we have on the truck, that makes it really light inside the truck, and it’s really clean and comfortable to be in there because we use a small generator.
SC: What would you pick as your ice cream truck song?
L.O.: Peter is actually a musician, we don’t have a song though. He wrote one, but it’s a bit arrogant. The lyrics are “ice cream man, I’m more important than you.” But if we did have one, it would probably be something charming and whimsical.
SC: Which flavors are most popular?
L.O.: Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry…and we just created an earl grey flavor that already sold out today.
SC: What’s your favorite Van Leeuwen flavor?
L.O.: It changes, but right now I love the ginger and mint chip.
SC: Any plans for expansion?
L.O.: We plan to have two more trucks in New York City by the end of the month.
The best part of the Van Leeuwen operation? Not only are they organic and delicious, they’re tech savvy, too! Follow them on Twitter @VLAIC for new flavor and location updates and check them out at vanleeuwenicecream.com.
The Van Leeuwen ice cream truck on Prince & Greene. Photo: Joey D’Arco
StyleCaster SWOONS Van Leeuwen ice cream, rain or shine. Photo: Joey D’Arco
A peek inside the ice cream truck. Photo: Joey D’Arco
Laura O’Neill, standing in front of the flagship truck. Photo: Joey D’Arco