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Why Van Leeuwen Makes Mac & Cheese and Pizza Ice Cream

by Alice

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, known for its gourmet flavors like vanilla and pistachio, occasionally introduces “shock flavors” such as Hidden Valley Ranch or pizza to surprise and delight customers.

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The idea for macaroni and cheese-flavored ice cream came from Kraft Heinz, who approached the New York-based artisanal ice cream maker a few years ago. Initially skeptical, Van Leeuwen’s co-founder and CEO, Ben Van Leeuwen, was convinced after discovering Kraft’s powder met the company’s high standards—free from palm oil and artificial ingredients. The result was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ice cream, which debuted to rave reviews in 2021 and was re-released briefly last fall.

“We will only do a shock flavor if we can make it good and distinct. We will not do a shock flavor where it’s just shock in name but tastes like vanilla,” Van Leeuwen emphasized.

Mark Lang, a food marketing expert and Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Tampa, explains the appeal: “We are variety-seeking animals. We constantly are seeking something new and different. It’s in our wiring,” he said.

This drive for novelty ensures that Van Leeuwen’s unconventional flavors continue to intrigue and attract adventurous customers.

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