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Why Spicy Ice Cream Should Be Your Late Summer Treat

Like so many families have during this months-long quarantine period, my family has looked for ways to stay stable, to stave off cabin fever, and even to have some fun. We’ve built basement forts, had water balloon fights, watched our fair share of Disney movies, and we’ve become something of ice cream aficionados, sampling a host of new brands and even new types of ice cream on our tri-weekly sweet dessert nights.

In the course of these ice cream adventures, I finally found a non-dairy ice cream I genuinely like in Brave Robot, a vegan dairy brand — yes, that’s a thing; they created an animal-free whey protein that creates an amazing verisimilitude of regular ice cream. We have tried a low-sugar ice cream that was still big on flavor (and keto-friendly, if that’s your thing) in Mammoth Creameries. And we even tried cookie dough-wrapped ice cream bites that are like two perfect sweets in one in Bubbies — think mochi (which I really don’t care for) but where the “wrapper” is cookie dough (which I do). They’re sublime. And we’ve messed with a lot of homemade concoctions, too. Yonanas, baby.

But far and away my favorite ice cream discovery of the summer was one that everyone else in my family couldn’t stand even a bite of. Not because of the flavor, but because of the spice. Marco Ice Cream makes the spiciest ice cream I’ve ever eaten and it’s absolutely delicious.

I’m in the midst of a long love affair with spiciness: I put hot sauce in my ketchup and red pepper flakes in my hot sauce. I put pepper on fries. No meal is a good meal without at least a little bit of sweat. And so forth. So when I tell you this stuff is spicy, you can trust me.

Marco’s ice creams are made in New York and are spiced up both with locally sourced ingredients, as from their partners at the Brooklyn Spice Company, as well as global ingredients. The flavors are complex and rich, as you might imagine when you hear names like Ginger Dreamsicle, Vanilla Chai, or my personal favorite, Aztec Chocolate, an ice cream so spicy that even I take it slow and keep the servings on the smaller side. (Which is a fringe benefit of super spicy sweet desserts: you eat less, but are still left satisfied.)

The brand is the result of a collaboration between a few food industry vets, these being Luke Christianson, Avery Henderson, Julian Plyter (a pastry chef from Le Bernardin and founder of New York City’s Melt Bakery), and Spencer Joynt. The folks behind the brand explain that Marco was founded to pay homage to beloved flavors from around the world that tend to turn up in New York City, and then to “transport them from plate to pint.”

Now, you might be thinking, “Well that’s all fine for you NYC area people, but what good does reading about a spicy ice cream do for me here in [insert location here]?”

Ah, never fear, fellow spiced sweet tooth: Marco is, at present, entirely a direct-to-consumer brand. They ship their sweet stuff out by the four- or five-pint case (five for $55) to three dozen states at present and are expanding this fall, both in shipping and in retail sales. So you’re just a few clicks and a couple days’ patience away from spicy sweet perfection, the perfect way to ease out of the long, awful summer of 2020.

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