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Van Leeuwen Serves Up Sweet Rewards

April 10, 2010

Van Leeuwen truck (photo:

“It must be the thrill of the chase”

writes Julia Moskin in the New York Times.

How else to explain New Yorkers’ infatuation with sweetmobiles, food trucks that are zipping around the city, tantalizingly loaded with crème brûlée, cookies, ice cream and freshly baked waffles — but often maddeningly hard to find?

Inspired by the discovery of yet another quirky ice cream truck, I set out to find the Heartschallenger today, and see what the scoop was on this cruising pink ’21st century lifestyle brand’.  While their website claims that you can find them at Dasalvio Park in NoLita daily from 1-6pm, finding the Heartschallenger proved to be more challenging than thrilling.  Two trips with two long-suffering sidekicks left us empty-bellied.  The Heartschallenger hotline sent me straight to voicemail and their blog yielded no clues as to their whereabouts.

Feeling distinctly pouty, I was heading to the subway when I came across the custard yellow Van Leeuwen truck on Broadway near Prince.  Prettily painted signs told me of the delectable treats available within and soon I was happily gobbling up my artisanal ginger ice cream.  The friendly girl (note to all men: Van Leeuwen apparently has a reputation for being staffed by ‘Rad Babes’ and today’s two were no exception) scooping this confection informed me that pistachio was the most popular, but ginger was her personal favorite.

“It’s the best job,” she said, “but it’s really hard.  Your wrists and elbows ache by the end of the day.”  A few summers back, a friend of mine who had spent the summer scooping Ben & Jerry’s had developed tendonitis in her elbow, so I was well aware of the occupational hazards of helados. Spooning into my sought-after sweet shed new light on her pain.  This stuff is painfully good.  Seek out, stand-in-line good. It seems that I am not the only one to feel this way. With press from New York magazine, the New York Times, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit and Gourmet, Van Leeuwen is basking in its coolness.

In the summer of 2008, Ben and Pete Van Leeuwen, two twenty-something brothers began the noble-sounding Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Company- a business whose main headquarters wheeled around SoHo dispensing a dozen flavors of high-quality ice cream made in upstate New York. Two years later, there are now five such mobiles buttering up the streets of Manhattan, and a brand new bricks-and-mortar headquarters in Greenpoint.

While the chase might be thrilling, you can make sure you get your just deserts by tracking them on Twitter or visiting their Brooklyn location [632 Manhattan Ave. between Nassau and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint, (718) 701-1630].

With competition like this, it looks like the Heartschallenger has its work cut out for it.

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