BELLEFONTE — Sweet and spicy is a unique combination of flavors.
But Bonfatto’s Restaurant & Lounge President Dave Letterman hit the jackpot when he combined the two to make Spice Cream — an infusion of French vanilla ice cream and fruit-based hot sauce.
Letterman said he entered his concoction in the Fancy Food Show hosted by the National Association of Special Food Trade in New York City from June 30 to July 2. He recently found out his Spice Cream was ranked second most innovative product at the show from among more than 4,000 vendors from around the world and tens of thousands of products.
The NASFT hosts two shows a year — one in San Francisco and the other in New York — for a group of specialty food enthusiasts looking to buy and sell their foods for that culinary sector. The New York show is the largest specialty food and beverage show in North America.
“You go to these kind of shows to market your product,” Letterman said.
Letterman said his Spice Cream is sold in Weis Markets in State College and Bellefonte, and at other specialty stores locally.
“We’re starting to grow from where we were a year ago,” he said.
At the show this year, Letterman said his Spice Cream was picked up by Texas-based specialty foods store Central Market.
Open to the public, Letterman said taste-testers would pick up a sample, walk away and seconds later turn back around to his booth.
“The public reaction is usually ‘who would have thought?’ ” Letterman said about adding a spice to his ice cream and explained that is how he came up with the Spice Cream slogan “whodathunkit.”
Letterman said the Spice Cream idea was sparked about three years ago after he and his wife were in a hot sauce show with about 25 other hot sauce vendors.
“It was really hot out,” he said. “We thought about it before to put ice cream with the sauces as a desert topping so she got some ice cream and started passing it around and the reaction was incredible.”
By June of last year, Letterman said his product was finalized as he learned how to make ice cream and add the right blend of hot sauce to the mixture.
“I thought, ‘man this is pretty good,’ ” Letterman said. “I really wanted to get the vanilla just right and get the sauce in there the right way and match it with a design and package.”
The Spice Cream, he said, is homemade at a facility in Lewistown where it’s also packaged. The Spice Cream flavors include Rolling Berry Blastoff, Sweet Peachy Heat Wave and Jumping Jack Apple Splash.
Letterman is a member of NASFT and partakes in more than a dozen shows and competitions annually. By the end of the year, he will be in shows regionally including one in the Allentown area, Cleveland, Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.
“We work awfully hard,” Letterman said. “It’s not an easy road. It takes time and perseverance, but its nice to know our work has been worthwhile and it’s nice to be recognized as such an innovative product.”
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @M11azzo.