It’s the most exciting thing to happen in Times Square since the Clash destroyed it at Bond’s in 1981.
On Sunday afternoon, amid the usual crush of tourists, hustlers, cops, and office drones, the mad ice cream geniuses at Ice & Vice opened up a gorgeously designed kiosk smack in the middle of Broadway’s new string of pedestrian plazas.
The primary agenda: to bring some of New York City’s best ice cream to one of the busiest places on the planet. The equally primary agenda: to raise money for and give a highly visible platform to a series of social activist organizations, starting with Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Harlem Grown.
It’s called Ice & Vice: I Scream! and it’s cause for celebration all around. Here’s what you need to know:
There are four regular-style ice cream flavors available, including three brand-new creations: Justice Is Sweet (chocolate, peanut butter Szechuan shell); Freeze Global Warming (concord grape, lavender); and the Full Scoop (malted vanilla, salted caramel swirl). All three are excellent, especially the Justice one, which embeds crushed peppercorns and peanut shells deep within the base for a freaky-but-cool numbing undercurrent.
There is soft serve, the first time Ice & Vice has ever sold the stuff. Only one flavor is available so far — co-founder Ken Lo said that more will come as soon as they figure out how to boost the electrical power in the booth to handle more than one dispenser — but it’s Basic B, the greatest vanilla ice cream you will ever have in your life, so stop complaining.
The booth also boasts four crazy-ass delicious sundaes, called No Censorship, No Hate, No Means No, and No Borders, involving an array of toppings like Mexican chocolate brownie chunks, raspberry rose lemonade, pink chocolate, burnt toast powder, blackberry jam, Oreo soil, and strawberry shortcake crumb.
Five percent of all profits at the kiosk will go directly to the four organizations mentioned above. The institutions receiving money from I Scream! will change quarterly, along with the ice cream flavors. There’s space for literature (a “What to Do If You’re Stopped by the Police” pamphlet, for example, from the New York Civil Liberties Union), and free stickers with slogans like “Dissent Is Patriotic.” On the back of the booth there’s the “ ‘I Scream’ of the day,” on which visitors can express their “political frustrations” and demand change.
All of the eye-catching signage and graphics on the booth itself were designed by Chelsea Lipman, who also came up with the whole concept after attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., last January, figuring that the magic of ice cream would be an irresistible lure for stopping Times Square foot traffic and promoting social justice.
Ice & Vice: I Scream! is open every day from 11 am to 10 p.m. and will be in Times Square at 43rd Street for “at least six months,” says Lo. “But assuming that everyone’s engaged with the project — and we consider this to be as much activist art installation as ice cream stand — we could be here indefinitely.”
If the aggressively non-trendy location seems an unlikely one for such a cool-kid downtown favorite like Ice & Vice, Lo reminds us that “there are 50 million visitors to Times Square every single year from all over the world, and the message that we should be sending to everyone is that New York City (and, hopefully one day, America) is a place of diversity and inclusivity, and that everyone is welcome here.” I would also add that we sure can make some goddamned amazing ice cream.