July 10, 2017 12:57PM
By Jesse Buchanan,
CHESHIRE — Looking to cool down with some vanilla ice cream after a meal of spicy wings, Cheshire resident Jeff Russitano had the idea to combine hot sauce with ice cream.
The result, HotScream, is now in area stores alongside established ice cream brands.
Russitano, a former chef, has been working on perfecting the recipe and marketing HotScream for more than 10 years. Since a switch to pint-sized containers after trying to sell ice cream sandwiches and tubs, he’s been able to get HotScream sold at more than two dozen stores around the state and other locations in the Northeast.
“Within a month (of the switch), we were in 21 stores,” Russitano said.
He started around 2005 but the stock market crash a few years later dampened sales. At the Durham Fair, Russitano found $1 samples of ice cream sandwiches sold well but said the sandwiches are expensive to make. That prompted the switch to colorful pint-sized containers in three flavors — ginger, chocolate and strawberry swirl.
The ice cream is made and packaged at Royal Ice Cream Company in Manchester.
At the factory on Thursday, Russitano explained that ice cream is whipped. The amount of air volume added is called overrun. The overrun is measured by letting ice cream melt and determining how much liquid remains. Some ice creams have 100 percent overrun, melting to half its frozen volume. HotScream has 50 percent overrun, Russitano said.
“It’s a premium ice cream,” he said.
Sarah Lorusso, manager of East Center Market in Wallingford, said Russitano’s sales manager John Kennedy came to the store with samples earlier this year. Lorusso, employees and some regular customers tried the spicy ice cream.
“We were taken aback at how different it was. It was pretty cool,” she said. “Your taste buds kind of flip out.”
Lorusso decided to begin stocking HotScream and found it was a hit with customers. She’s decreased orders of other ice creams to make room for it.
“HotScream has its own shelf now,” she said. “People have been calling us from other towns.”
“It’s definitely something that’s going to blow up,” Lorusso added. “We love companies that are local and are starting from the bottom like we did.”
Russitano said the first taste is sweet, followed by the heat. He said he had to go through many recipes before he got it right. A list of HotScream retailers can be found at http://www.escapebrands.com/.