2018 was our biggest year yet! We unveiled our 15,000 sq ft Red Hook Factory, churned 13 brand new flavors and opened four new scoop shops (including our first on the West Coast). We made ice cream celebrating the Super Bowl, the Royal Wedding and the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse! We delivered over 5,000 orders to the doors of dessert lovers across the nation. Ina Garten, Nicole Byer, Ellie Kemper and more gave us shout-outs (pinch us, we’re dreaming). We scooped ice cream at Fashion Week! We were finally able to offer free shipping nationwide, announcing the news with the debut of our new teal shipping box (complete with pop-out cut-outs of our characters). Our founders, Brian and Jackie, piled into an RV with their two kids for a cross-country road trip, Churning Across America, and made new flavors along the way. We collaborated with local businesses to create shop-specific flavors, experimented with mix-ins and raised $1,718 for charity. We celebrated our 7th birthday with our 7th Annual Sell-Out Celebration, leaving us to wonder, "are we over the ample hill?" We made worse puns than ever before, drew our silliest chalkboards and had a pretty absurd amount of fun at work. While it wasn’t easy, we’ve whittled down our year in ice cream to the best: the best flavors, the best mix-ins and the best moments.
Check out our Best of 2018, and let us know if you disagree—or want us to do it again in 2019.
Best Limited Time Flavor: God Save the Cream
At Ample Hills, we’re unapologetic pop culture lovers. When the Royal Wedding was announced, we knew we had to celebrate with something truly unique! First, we held a contest: what should we make and what should we name it? We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of suggestions, but in the end, four ideas took the cake. The perfect marriage of lemon (for our Californian princess) and ginger (for a ginger prince), God Save the Cream was a lemon ginger ice cream mixed with elderflower wedding cake and buttercream. Unlike anything we've ever made before, God Save the Cream sold out in record time! Our scoop shops could barely keep the flavor in stock through the wedding day. We also sold this flavor online as part of the Keep Calm & Berry On 4-Pack—which came with a surprise “make your own ice cream crown.” We really felt the love for this regal flavor, with shout-outs from The Food Network, Elite Daily, Bustle and The Daily Meal (to name a few).
Thank you to @lyssie23 for the ‘God Save the Cream’ name, @alexrqhowru for ‘Keep Calm and Berry On,’ @kadarlikeradar for the ‘ginger prince’ pun and @dakotaskies for being the first (of many) to suggest the couple’s elderflower wedding cake for our mix-in!
Best Collaboration on a Flavor: Nectar of the Queens
Nectar of the Queens is our Astoria shop-specific flavor; you can only get it there!
We love collaborating with local businesses to create new flavors full of mix-ins. This year, we teamed up with Baked by Melissa to make two flavors teeming with cupcakes, partnered with BAKED to pack a flavor with rainbow cookies and worked with so many more to push the boundaries of dessert! But one new flavor in particular stole our hearts: our collaboration with Artopolis Bakery to make our Astoria shop-specific flavor, Nectar of the Queens. A honey cinnamon ice cream mixed with chunks of Astoria's own Artopolis Bakery’s baklava and galaktoboureko, Nectar of the Queens celebrates the greek heritage of Astoria by featuring authentic, traditional greek pastries in every scoop. Not only is this flavor decadent and delicious, but it also showcases incredible greek delicacies from a family-run bakery in the neighborhood. We take great pride in that.
Best New Party Space: Our Los Feliz scoop shop
Our Bicycle Birthday Parties and Scoop Tab Parties are one-of-a-kind ice cream party experiences. Celebrate any occasion with your favorite flavors, closest friends and a private space. This year, we opened our first scoop shop on the West Coast...and we didn’t hold back. Featuring hand painted murals, seating for up to 24 and a porch swing, our Los Feliz scoop shop is home to our prettiest party space yet. Plus, this is our only scoop shop with a parking lot! Talk about convenience.
I Wait All Year For: Festival of Lights
From our Valentine’s Day flavor, Be Mine, to our fall flavors, No Sleep Till Pumpkin and Autumn in New York, we keep our dipping cabinet interesting all year long with a rotating selection of seasonal flavors! People went crazy for Festival of Lights—and who can blame them? An indulgent cream cheese ice cream mixed with raspberry rugelach from our good friends at BAKED, Festival of Lights is a flavor that can’t be beat. Literally. Two years running, Festival of Lights has won this coveted distinction! Hanukkah may only come once a year, but the love for this flavor lasts all year long.
Best New Shop-Specific Flavor: Beneath Las Estrellas
This year, we opened an astounding four new scoop shops! Each of our scoop shops has its own, exclusive shop-specific flavor...meaning we created four new flavors! For our Los Feliz scoop shop, we took our inspiration from the nearby Griffith Observatory and the story of how this neighborhood got its name. Our Los Feliz shop-specific flavor is Beneath Las Estrellas, an horchata ice cream mixed with Milky Way swirls of dulce de leche and star-studded skies of white chocolate pearls. We put great thought into how we can celebrate the neighborhood with our shop-specific flavors, and this flavor does just that. Beneath Las Estrellas pairs perfectly with a night off counting the stars. West coasters, rejoice. This flavor is all yours.
Biggest Surprise: Tour de Hills
Every summer, we challenge our guests to visit every single one of our scoop shops between National Ice Cream Day and Labor Day with Tour de Hills. We even up the ante and award a plethora of prizes to those who visit all of the scoop shops in just one day! Since 2017's Tour de Hills, we opened a bunch of new scoop shops (including one in Jersey City), making this the hardest year yet. We estimated only 50 people would take on the challenge. Boy, were we wrong! This year, we crowned 260 Hillionaires! That’s five times more than we expected, making Tour de Hills the biggest surprise of 2018. We'll never underestimate ice cream lovers again. Welcome to the Hillionaires Club!
Best Comeback: Corn to Run
We brought back a lot of flavors this year, including our Baked by Melissa collaboration, Summer of Love and 2018 Flavor Frenzy winner, Peanut Butter Munchies (a peanut butter pretzel ice cream with housemade munchie mix-ins: pretzels, potato chips, Ritz crackers and Reese’s pieces). While Corn to Run was technically the runner-up in our 2018 Flavor Frenzy, this flavor’s comeback was a smashing success! And we can see why; Corn to Run is a creamy sweet corn ice cream mixed with housemade cornmeal crumbles and tart blueberry swirls. As soon as it sold out, we were confronted with an immediate demand to bring it back! Corn to Run is, dare we say, a-maize-ing? We even churned a special batch just for The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.
Best Pop-Up: The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
Speaking of The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, this event was our favorite pop-up of the year! A weekend of simmering ‘cue prepared by true pitmasters, The Big Apple BBQ was understandably packed! Every June, this event transforms Midtown into a street party. Our Amployees scooped nonstop. In those two days, we went through over 240 gallons of ice cream. Truly, we owe our Amployees a huge “thank you” for their hard work. The crowd loved Corn to Run. Plus, it was all for a good cause! The Big Apple BBQ benefits the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which works to keep this humble park beautiful and thriving. Hear more about our love for The Big Apple BBQ by popping over to our blog.
Most Pride-filled Moment: Brooklyn Pride
Love is love is love. Every year, we make a flavor to celebrate Pride and donate a portion of the sales to LGBTQ+ organizations fighting to make the world a safer place. This year, we teamed up with Brooklyn Pride and they asked us to march in the Brooklyn Pride Parade: an amazing, empowering opportunity. We made a banner featuring our characters, Walt, Whitty and PB partying like it's pride, and bright pink tank tops featuring our Pride flavor, Baby, I Was Churned This Way!. All of our Amployees were invited to march. The Brooklyn Pride Parade was a truly remarkable moment of unity and celebration.
Best Mix-In: The Hook
At Ample Hills, we believe in ample mix-ins; it’s the “Ample way!” What was the mix-in that we couldn’t get enough of this year? The housemade stroopwafels in The Hook! Our Red Hook shop-specific flavor, The Hook is a burnt sugar ice cream with housemade stroopwafels and chunks of salted fudge. Our version of the classic dutch pastry, our stroopwafels are crispy, buttery and bring just the right amount of crunch. We keep telling the Kitchen Team to use a heavy hand.
Best Design: The Disney Mickey Mouse Collection
A collaboration with Disney, The Disney Mickey Mouse Collection celebrates the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse, the true original! We worked closely with Disney to create brand new Mickey Mouse comic strips, featured on each pint. Our Creative Director, Lauren Kaelin, was given the one-of-a-kind opportunity to draw these iconic Disney characters by hand herself. With guidance from Disney character artist, Jeff Shelly, she created brand new art inspired by some of the most iconic Disney designs over the last 90 years! We took extreme care with every detail, innovating a new rectangular pint shape to show off each panel. And for fun, every pint comes with two spoons under the lid. Learn more here!
Best Chalkboard: Seasonal Denial
Our chalkboards give our Amployees the opportunity to get in touch with their creative side. We encourage them to let their imaginations run wild! While this year had a lot of stand outs (drawings of this year's Oscar nominated films featuring our characters and tributes to"thank u, next"), Amployee Marina drew our favorite chalkboard of the year: Seasonal Denial! Marina always goes above and beyond when it comes to chalk. She's a true artist. But this one in particular really delights us! Featuring PB the Pig in a bikini despite the snow, Marina’s chalkboard celebrates our reluctance to let go of summer. After all, it’s always ice cream weather.
Best New Flavor: Ode to Joy
This year, we churned a whopping 13 new flavors (and that’s not even counting the flavors our founders created while Churning Across America). We made flavors for the Super Bowl, the Royal Wedding and 20/20. We made three new birthday cake flavors to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. We made new shop-specific flavors for each of our new shops. And we also debuted two new vegan flavors. Of all of these incredible new flavors, the best is undoubtedly Ode to Joy. A non-dairy coconut ice cream mixed with almond fudge brownies, Ode to Joy is our first vegan flavor with mix-ins. You asked, we answered! When we tested this flavor at our Gowanus scoop shop, it was an immediate hit. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a full tub of Ode to Joy at any of our scoop shops—it is too well-loved. In 2019, we hope to create even more non-dairy flavors with ample mix-ins; it’s the Ample way.
Halley’s Comet Award: Our Red Hook Factory
An award bestowed only for once-in-a-lifetime achievements, the Halley’s Comet Award is given to true Ample Hills milestones. This year, we’re awarding it to our Red Hook Factory. Years in the making, this 15,000 sq ft factory features a scoop shop, state-of-the-art equipment and an interactive ice cream museum (with windows, so you can see what our Kitchen Team is up to). We believe in an experiential approach to learning, so everything is interactive—even the centerpiece of our ice cream museum, a 25 ft tall hand painted map of Brooklyn, features a trolley that treks across the map, lights flashing, at the push of a button.
For more pictures and details on opening this colossal ice cream factory, check out our blog!
To say that opening the largest ice cream production facility in New York City was a team effort is an understatement. Truly, we could never have accomplished this huge feat without the unending support and hard work of our friends, family and Amployees. Every single day, our Factory Team works diligently to make ice cream for all of our scoop shops, wholesale partners and online orders. Our gratitude to them for all they do is, well, ceaseless. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: we couldn’t do it without you.
2018 was a wild year. None of it would have been possible without your support! Thank you for indulging us. Stay sweet. We’ll see you in 2019. We’re already cooking up some big ideas.