PORTLAND, Oregon — Portland ice cream favorite Salt & Straw will launch their April menu with five new flavors, straight from the minds of kids. Think key lime cheesecake chunks and strawberry ice cream with gummy bears and sprinkles. The flavors come from Salt & Straw's 2022 Student Inventor Series.
"I'm really nervous and excited for you guys to try these," said founder Tyler Malek while standing in front of three boys and their mothers in Salt & Straw's research kitchen in Southeast Portland.
He's holding the final meeting with his newest board of "flavor executives" comprised of five kids with two girls joining via Zoom from Washington, Oregon and California.
"I was overcome with your creativity," Malek tells them. "You five are some of the coolest, creative humans I've ever met in my life."
Out of hundreds of submissions, the kids won a short story contest about the wildest ice cream flavors they could imagine.
"We got some amazing stories from these kids," says Malek.
The hard part was, he and his team actually had to make the flavors the kids described in their stories. Developing recipes for one pint of ice cream at first, then scaling up to 4,000 pints per batch. It took months, but now they're here.
"So, I've got ice creams for you," Malek excitedly tells the kids as he passes out pints of each flavor to the three boys there: 13-year-old Rae, 12-year-old Cooper and 8-year-old Asher. The girls, 11-year-old Bridget and 7-year-old Charlotte, got their taste tester pints shipped to their homes in Washington.
"Feel free to be honest too. You guys are okay with eating a lot of ice cream today, right?" Malek asks.
Rae calls his flavor "Bottomless Limes." It's key lime pie ice cream with hunks of real pie crust, green and pink sprinkles and chocolate bark, all relating to his story in which he describes like this: "There's a series of mysterious items that emerge from a bottomless pit in the middle of nowhere and eventually a human child emerges from the hole."
Asher came up with a deep purple ice cream that's actually dark cherry flavored with marshmallow fluff.
"So my story is "The Adventurous Llamanaut," a llama who wants to be an astronaut. She's inspired by the star sprinkles and the vanilla colored Milky Way," Asher said. "It's kind of cool. People are eating my invention."
The printed stories and ice creams are in all 25 Salt & Straw locations across the country through April 28. Ice creams are available for nationwide shipping on their website.
"It's easily forgotten how powerful creativity is in this world," Malek said. "Being able to allow them to showcase their craft just builds confidence for them and inspires kids around the country and if we all just had a glimmer of that, it could really change this world."