David Letterman will appear on the Food Network Monday night.
Not the longtime “Late Show” host — the local restaurant owner.
He owns Bonfatto’s in Bellefonte and will make his game show debut on the Food Network to pitch an ice cream with a dash of hot sauce. He calls it Spice Cream, and it will be one of several products pitched on “Food Fortunes” at 10 p.m. Monday to a panel of potential investors.
It’s something, he says, his grandparents Guy and Pauline Bonfatto could not have imagined when they opened Bonfatto’s in 1919, then just a grocery store.
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“No, I don’t think so,” David Letterman said. “They didn’t even have ice cream.”
The show’s concept is simple: “walk in with an idea … walk out with a fortune” to launch or expand a food business.
Letterman’s idea for Spice Cream, which was launched in June 2013, came from a little bit out of left field.
He and his wife, Sherri, were at a Delaware hot sauce show about four years ago. The heat was overwhelming, so they got some ice cream.
“We dipped it in our sauces, and we had other people try it and people loved it,” Sherri Letterman said. “If you like ice cream and hot sauce, it’s something you’ll love. It’s a really unique taste.”
David Letterman tinkered with Spice Cream for two years before its launch and sells it in three flavors that are added to all-natural vanilla ice cream: Jumping Jack Apple Splash, which combines cinnamon apples, molasses and whiskey along with pecans; Sweet Peachy Heat Wave, which combines peaches and hot sauce along with granola; and Rolling Berry Blastoff, which combines raspberries and spicy habanero sauce along with peanut butter cups.
They’re sold at local Weis and Wegmans markets and specialty stores.
Production and widespread distribution of Spice Cream, however, is a challenge.
“People at shows from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, everywhere, ask when we’re going to bring Spice Cream to them to buy,” David Letterman said.
The hot demand for their ice cream prompted the Lettermans to apply for the TV show “Shark Tank” about a year ago, but didn’t make the cut.
“In October, I got email from a guy who was casting for the new show on the Food Network, and he thought Spice Cream would do well on the new show,” David Letterman said. “I submitted a video and application and an audition in December in New York City. Then, in January they contacted me for more information and before I knew it I was out in Los Angeles filming.”
The couple spent January coming up with a presentation for the show, which culminated in David Letterman’s one minute and 54 second pitch on his first take on stage.
Only David Letterman knows if the investors bought into Spice Cream.
“My wife doesn’t even know,” he said. “We made an agreement when I went that I wouldn’t tell her. She’ll be on the edge of her seat like everyone else.”