79 BIG GAY ICE CREAM
In the summer of 2009, an ice- cream truck like none before it rolled onto the streets of New York City. The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was created by Bryan Petroff and Douglas Quint, who sold ice- cream flavours cheekily named Salty Pimps, Dorothy and Blueberry Gobbler from it. The truck has now been parked up and replaced by three bricks- andmortar shops across the city. We spoke to Douglas about his time in the truck and his favourite places in NYC…
Why did you decide to brand the company Big Gay Ice Cream?
We wanted to name the truck but had no idea what to go with. Certainly not a vanity name, no simple “Doug’s Ice Cream”. I started a Facebook page for my ongoing diary about the project and invited my friends to “like” it. Because we didn’t know what we would be calling the truck, I named the page “The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck”. We figured eventually we’d come up with a permanent name for our big gay ice cream truck, but that’s not how it played out. The name of the page made people laugh, and folks starting joining the Facebook page purely so that their feed would say “John Doe is a fan of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.” The name was just a goof. When we actually got a truck people realised this was no joke, and we realised that it was decided for us by all the Facebook “likes” — we were The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.
What were the reactions of New Yorkers the first time you rolled the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck out?
They stared, and then they laughed, and then they started buying ice cream.
Where was your favourite spot to park the truck?
We almost always parked at 17th and Broadway in Union Square and that will always feel like home. That’s where the truck grew up. It’s where Uptown and Downtown coexist.
What was your most challenging day in the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck?
There was one day that I had to film for a web series, and the air conditioner was broken. I was trying to make ice cream and it reached 116F in the truck. It looked like I was wearing a different- coloured shirt because I was literally drenched in sweat. Totally gross.
Why did you stop taking the truck out?
The truck was still a lot of fun, but it ceased
being a creative experience after three years. I loved meeting everyone and talking to them, but it became so popular that I was making just two or three different types of cones all day long, and our regulars could no longer come and get ice cream because the lines were too long. That’s when we realised we needed to do a bricks- and- mortar shop.
Have you had any famous customers? If so, give us the, ahem, scoop…
We’ve seen a lot. Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, David Beckham and his kids… the list goes on!
Where should we go for something savoury before we visit one of your ice cream parlours?
There are so many amazing restaurants in the neighbourhoods where our shops are! I suggest either Le Bernardin or Joe’s Pizza on Carmine [ Street]. Something for every budget!
What should Big Gay Ice Cream virgins try their first time?
American Globs [ malted sweet cream ice cream with fudge- covered salted pretzel balls and a fudge swirl], named after Neil Gaiman’s [ novel] American Gods. It’s the most extreme treatment of soft serve that we know of, that’s for sure.
Where would you suggest we go to work off the sugar high?
It has to be a walk along the High Line.
The drinks are on us. Where can we take you for a big night out?
An appetizer hot dog at Gray’s Papaya, then Grand Central Oyster Bar, then the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel, and then to Coal Yard in East Village for some shots of whiskey. And finish at Katz’s Deli for a pastrami sandwich, of course.
Do you have any big plans for WorldPride this year?
We usually just keep doing what we do. We have always made sure that people, all people, know our arms are extended to them. We’re open to everybody – that’s how we celebrate Pride every day.