Hanukah gave Dana Salls Cree a chance to try something new at Pretty Cool Ice Cream during a pandemic that’s forcing the food industry to move in new directions. The Logan Square ice cream shop rolled out special flavors like latke and noodle kugel: Eight flavors for the holiday’s eight nights.
This gave Jewish flavors that are overlooked a chance to shine in a different way, says Salls Cree. The importance of being seen within the food community is not lost on Salls Cree, who’s a former pastry chef at the Publican and Blackbird. Gourmet and nostalgic flavors have reigned at Pretty Cool, which opened in 2018 after the success of Hello, My Name is Ice Cream. The book’s become an essential guide for ice cream fans all over the country and Salls Cree wanted to keep the book’s branding for her store. She would instead discover that Lindt, the international chocolate conglomerate, held a trademark for potential ice cream products. Pivoting, she partnered with Bang Bang Pie’s Michael Ciapciak to open Pretty Cool Ice Cream near the corner of Fullerton and California.
Two years later, Salls Cree has figured out a creative way she can have continuity with her book and navigate choppy legal waters. Next year — by ice cream season, she says — Salls Cree is launching a retail line for hard-to-find ice cream ingredients (like stabilizers) for the home cook. This will remove barriers and encourage readers to unleash their imaginations in coming up with their own recipes based on Salls Cree’s writings. She’s already been revamping the Hello My Name Is Ice Cream website in anticipation.
“My favorite part of it is that we’re using this fancy new label maker,” Salls Cree says. They’re using “Hello, My Name Is” labels and will have empty pint containers available to complete the home ice cream experience: “The home ice cream maker just doesn’t have the access to the same containers we have...it’s very cute.”
When it comes to her recipes, Salls Cree’s philosophy is similar to open-source software — she believes in giving it away to anyone. Everyone saw how home bakers took to sourdough kits during the early stages of the pandemic. Why can’t Salls Cree encourage that type of excitement with ice cream? She’s turned part of her shop into a video studio with plans to record cooking demos. There’s hope she can cultivate an ice cream-making community with customers showing off unique creations using social media.
These are just some of the pandemic changes at Pretty Cool, where there’s now a giant balloon wall to deter children from wandering around the space. The team has also introduced a new ice cream line. It’s more affordable compared to Pretty Cool’s regular line, Salls Cree says it’s more of an every day ice cream. It’s called Plain Jane and comes in flavors like vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. Pretty Cool also now sells hot cocoa, and Salls Cree they’ll also offer “Hot Tang” which is a spiced drink with cinnamon, citrus, and cloves. Finally, Pretty Cool will introduce warm cookie delivery in early January.
One area that Pretty Cool won’t expand into is street vending. Salls Cree says she’s sensitive to appropriation issues (she was interviewed in November, before last week’s news involving Stephanie Izard). Pretty Cool’s initial focus was frozen treats on a stick, and that could have overlap with paletas, the Mexican-style popsicles.
“We basically said that is a revenue stream we won’t pursue because there are people in the community already who do that and we don’t want to disrupt....they need this more than us,” Salls Cree says.
Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming months.