1900-ICE-CREAM is a special product. It is very special. This “review”, if we can even call it that, is going to be long but I think it’s important to highlight the special things that Philly has to offer, and support local businesses and entrepreneurs. So stay for the info, the story, and the ice cream of course.
So, what do we have here? We have 1-900-ICE-CREAM of course. This weeks drop included Banana Boyz (roasted banana ice cream, dark chocolate crumb crunch, peanut butter flecks), God Mode: Ox (Ox Coffee base, chocolate cookie crunch, dulce de leche swirl), and God Mode (house roasted coffee, whole Amarena cherries, cherry jam swirl, chocolate chunks).
This Philly based, ONE MAN operation is run by Ryan Fitzgerald. Maryland born and Philly adopted, he’s been living here for well over a decade since graduating from Villanova.
He’s been in the Philly food scene almost as long. Before starting 1-900-ICE-CREAM he ran Boku while also working a separate full time job. Boku was an underground supper club, hosting events once a month to showcase local chefs and purveyors of produce.
So what does that tell us? The man knows how to cook without classical training. He cares about his product, scrapping dishes if they didn’t meet his standards. And finally, he is an inventive chef (now ice cream monger?) who can swing a lot of different and creative ingredients.
1-900-ICE-CREAM started as the dessert course at Boku, as Ryan began to sling ice cream sandwiches to his diners. They became so popular that he began focusing on pints as well. He draws inspiration from Ben & Jerry’s; the idea that pints and mix-ins can be enjoyed as a treat scooped on its own, while putting his own chefs spin on things. The pints are all hand packed, the mix ins made fresh every week. Whether that be the chewy browny or cherry compote, it all came from Ryans hands. The ice cream is a labor of love, and it shows. You can even catch him making the ice cream on his Instagram stories.
We’ve been lucky enough to get to know Ryan a little bit over the past few months; enjoying his ice cream, helping him move a fridge with Chris, and seeing him around Philly’s best sandwich shop, Liberty Kitchen, where his operation is currently based out of. We aren’t going to do an in depth review on the flavors of the ice cream like we usually would. It’s absolutely spectacular. You know that, I know that, you don’t need us to tell you any more. You’ll just have to try it yourself.
Ryan was nice enough to answer some questions though, which we’d like to feature so you can learn more about this unique operation and its unique owner.
How did you end up getting this deal with Liberty Kitchen to make ice cream out of their basement? What attracted you to them?
Liberty Kitchen offers commissary kitchen services, so it’s not some sort of crazy, special arrangement. One of the co-owners, Matt, and I go way back; so I obviously hit him up when they opened. Plus they have probably the lowest rates in the city for commissary services.
We know you have a love for coffee, how’d that get started? What was your first coffee you fell in love with?
My childhood friend, Fabrizio, owns a coffee shop in NYC, and he opened my eyes to third wave coffee. From there it spoke to everything that interests me…science, machinery, nuance. Just gave me something else to be pedantic about. From there I started collecting and restoring espresso machines.
Honestly, I like the process of making and extracting, more than I do drinking it, I think. That’s not to say I’m not physically and emotionally addicted to coffee, but the science and methods of brewing are what keep me hooked. Brewed coffee is the end product of all that, so might as well drink it.
What brought you to Philly, and what kept you here?
I went to Villanova, and started a screen printing business when I graduated. Stuck around because Philly, really is everything I want in a city.
Do you draw inspiration from anybody? Chefs or otherwise?
Dana Cree was my Fabrizio of ice cream; not that I know her personally, but her book exposed me to the chemistry and science of ice cream, which ultimately got me into commercial ice cream production. Christina Tosi’s book is also a source of ideas. Reimagining her recipes into ice cream pints is always a hit. "Man does not invent, he discovers"…except for Tosi. The stuff she comes up with, boyyyyyyyyyyyyy…
Do you think 1-900-ICE-CREAM will last forever? Is it your final project that you’ll expand on indefinitely, or do you already have other things on the back burner?
1-900 is my life right now. Will it last forever? Depends if you all keep buying it. Yes, the goal is to build a company that scales, something I’m admittedly not good at nor have I ever successfully done before. I can tell you that after trying five times with five different businesses.
1-900-ICE-CREAM is a perfect example of why we love Philly. The city and its chefs has a great dedication and appreciation of local food, creativity, and collaboration amongst businesses.
It’s a community that supports itself and its members. So if you get a chance, or if you’re lucky enough, try Ryans ice cream.