Chloe and Adam Hanson are the owners and founders of Spoonthumb Ice Cream, a popup and cart-based ice cream company that caters all over town. We got the chance to sit down with them and chat about how it all began and their inspirations and aspirations for Spoonthumb.
Q: When did Spoonthumb begin?
A: Adam and I started Spoonthumb summer of 2016. We had moved back to Nampa from Seattle, after living in Seattle for about six years and were looking for something new to do. We both had 9-5 really busy jobs when we lived in Seattle and were sort of looking for a slower pace and to try something that we were really passionate about. We both have always loved ice cream and it was a big part of my growing up – we always had multiple flavors of ice cream in the freezer and would eat it at least once a day.
Adam and I, when we lived in Seattle, we started making ice cream sort of as a hobby after work. We had just a tiny little counter top home ice cream maker and were experimenting just a little bit and realized how much better our homemade ice cream tasted than store-bought.
So, we moved back to Nampa and were looking for something new and exciting to do and decided maybe we should try our hand at making ice cream. We found an ice cream cart on Craigslist and thought that was kind of a sign that maybe we should try it out for a summer and see if we liked it.
Q: How would you define Spoonthumb Ice Cream in a few sentences?
A: Spoonthumb is focused on making high quality ice cream with high quality ingredients. We do our best to search locally when we can, we really want to support other local farmers and local businesses and what they love to do. We love bringing a product to people that brings people joy and happiness. It’s such a wonderful feeling to see people savor and enjoy your ice cream and see the smiles on their faces as they taste something that you worked so hard on.
Q: How has the community response been?
A: The community response has been better than we could have ever hoped for. We obviously had family and friends support from the very beginning and we’re really lucky to have lots of family and friends live close by. But then the business response has been more than we could have imagined, there’s been all kinds of other small business we’ve been able to partner with and hear their stories. It’s so encouraging to see small businesses thrive that have continued after years and years – especially in Downtown Boise and Nampa, just hearing those small business owner’s stories and hoping someday we can be like them and have years behind us doing the thing that we love. And the partnerships have been wonderful being able to find farmers and growers and people who make ingredients for our ice cream and getting to feature those in our ice creams has been really rewarding.
Q: Do you or Adam have any background experience in making ice cream?
A: My background is very mixed, I went to school for graphic design and then had a job right after, and actually during school working at a local champagne importer in Seattle called Fat Cork and learned a ton about small business from them and had a wonderful time doing design in all forms and then also getting a lot of management experience.
And then Adam’s background is in engineering – also not culinary related. But at Fat Cork and my whole life I was really passionate about food and at Fat Cork I learned a lot about finer foods, especially pairings with different wines and champagnes. It was a large part of my job to find really wonderful local ingredients to feature at dinners that we had or different pairing events. I really gained a great appreciation for food as I worked at Fat Cork and I’ve always been really passionate about the food industry. I think food is an amazing thing, it brings people together and can also really help a community thrive and bring people up when you see farmers featured and makers featured and bakers all coming together to create something – I think there’s something really beautiful about that.
Q: How do you decide what flavors you’ll make?
A: We pick our favors largely based on what’s in season, because we’re always trying to feature seasonal ingredients. Obviously, that can be tricky and limiting but it’s a really fun challenge to pick ingredients and then find a way to feature them. This last summer we did an apricot butter cake ice cream using apricots from Waterwheel Gardens and they were our neighbors at Capital City Public Market so that was really exciting to find a way to feature their product. And then we also use local strawberries for roasted strawberry ice cream and we’re always trying to find local herbs or locally grown produce to help those along.
And then the other inspiration comes from all over the place. I really like cooking, so flavor pairings come to mind as you’re cooking or baking that you may not have seen in ice cream before so that always inspires new flavors. What we see other ice cream stores doing could help influence a flavor. There are so many really creative ice cream makers out there today and it’s really cool to get to see what everyone else is trying out. And just learning different techniques can really inform our flavors.
Q: What is your personal favorite flavor?
A: There are so many good ones! This summer we did a honey and lavender flavor for Idaho Shakespeare Festival. We called it “To Bee or Not To Bee” and that was a really fun challenge to have plays and then come up with flavors that aligned with them. Our honey and lavender was really delicious. We steeped lavender in milk and that created our ice cream base and then we mixed in a honey toffee that was made with Idaho honey. It was crunchy and a little bit melty and it was delicious. I could eat that all day, I loved it.
Q: What are the future goals for Spoonthumb?
A: We are really hoping to grow in 2018. 2017 was a crazy year for us in the best way, but we had tons of events and lots of pop-ups and partnerships and so we’re hoping that in 2018 we can have a bit more of a stable spot. We are hoping for a store front – I don’t know if that’s going to happen yet. We are trying and trying, crunching numbers, and looking, and sort of figuring out what the vision is right now. But we’re hoping that this winter we’ll be able to have some downtime and think about it and develop more recipes and hopefully have a plan so that we can open some sort of a store front spring of 2018.
Q: Where can people find you?
A: We are all over social media! I love Instagram and Facebook and we tweet sometimes. And we post on social media our whereabouts for pop-ups, so we really rely on social media as a way for people to find us. And right now, since it’s the off season our locations are a little sparse, but we are still doing some winter pop-ups. And our vanilla bean ice cream is always available at both Flying M locations. They do affogatos and nitro floats or you can get it on the side of a cookie or cake or something. On our website we have a calendar where you can find our pop-up schedule and future times to buy ice cream!