They call him the godfather of ice cream. And with inventions like cookies and cream ice cream and chocolate-dipped waffle cones on his frozen desserts resume, it seems like an apt description. Malcolm Stogo, 73, has spent much of his adult life pondering and tinkering with the various ways to improve that sweet treat that we all scream for, and even teaches others how to do the same at his Ice Cream University in New Jersey.
It might come as a bit of a surprise, then, that Stogo’s latest venture is an ice cream factory in Astoria, Queens specializing in gluten and dairy-free ice cream. That’s right, the king of the dairy desserts has gone vegan.
His factory in Astoria is called the Fal Foods Factory, where he sells a line of 15 “DF Mavens” (short for dairy-free), and each ice cream or sorbet creation is soy, coconut, or almond-milk based. Only the gelato, which is also a part of Stogo's Desserts that Matter line, does contain dairy.
Some of the unusual and delectable-sounding flavors include Sicilian hazelnut truffle, caramel apple almond and New Orleans salted praline.
If you ask Stogo about his sudden about-face in the ice cream world, he’s just as surprised as you are.
“Seven years ago someone came to me, and wanted me to try making soy-based ice cream, and of course I told them it was a dumb idea,” says Stogo. “But we eventually tinkered with the idea, and found, unfortunately, that the ice cream still tasted like soy. I’ve been a real dairy person my whole life, but I love a good challenge as much as a I love ice cream. I wanted to challenge myself to do something totally different.”
So Stogo and his team spend the past seven years trying to perfect soy-based ice cream to be fairly-indistinguishable from regular ice cream. That’s the difference, he said, between Desserts That Matter, and other vegan-minded competitors: he loves milk and cream, and wants his non-dairy products to be up to snuff, and not actually taste like they were missing something.
Regardless of whether he’s selling ice cream with dairy or without, Stogo’s policy has always been the same: ice cream makes everybody smile, and over the years, the ice cream inventor has seemed to take on an exterior of cheerful optimism, as sweet as any of his frozen creations.
“The best thing about ice cream? It doesn’t have grease,” says Stogo. “If you’re in the restaurant business, you’re constantly dealing with greasy, fried food. Believe me, I used to be in that business. Ice cream is a very fun business; you can great really creative with it.”