Hot Scream was born on a night of watching football and intensely spicy buffalo wings. The idea came when Jeff Russitano, now CEO of HotScream and his friend decided to cool down with some ice cream. With the remaining hot sauce sitting right there on the counter next too two big bowls of ice cream what was then just a late night goofball moment of inspiration is well on its way to becoming a multi-million dollar business.
“This is going to seriously impact the ice cream industry,” Jeff predicts. “We are creating a new niche. You’ve got your exotic flavors, but there are no spicy flavors, we are The Spicy Ice Cream, we are original.”
Their concept first started in the food service industry but didn’t gain enough traction, so they decided to make pints of ice cream instead. Now you can find brightly packaged pints of premium vanilla ice cream with sweet and spicy swirls of strawberry, chocolate, and ginger in over 35 stores in Connecticut and Long Island. The secret ingredient is a proprietary blend of 8 different peppers.
“There are thousands of peppers to choose from,” says Jeff. “Ghost peppers, cubanelles, poblano, cayenne, serrano, on and on. We tried out many just to find the right blend.”
For those that don’t like spicy food, Jeff assures people that it’s really not that spicy.
“You taste the ginger, chocolate or strawberry before you feel the heat, just like regular ice cream,” says Jeff. “You get a warming sensation in the back of your throat, it’s not going to overpower you. It’s something you have to taste and experience to actually believe.”
You can taste Hot Scream yourself as it is available on the Shoreline in a few places like Moxie Bar and Restaurant in Madison, River Valley Provisions in Haddam, Robert Food Center in North Madison, the Colonial Market in Essex and The Marketplace in Guilford.
Jeff says they have plans to take this ice cream nationally. And when they get to places like Texas or Arizona, they may have to have turned up the heat.
“We probably will have different flavor intensities depending on where you are located geographically,” he says. “In Texas, we know we are going to have to ratchet it up a notch.”
Perhaps it’s not just the spice that makes this ice cream so popular but the quality of the ice cream. “When we say ‘premium’ ice cream, we mean it. We manufacture our ice cream at Royal Ice Cream in Manchester. It’s a family owned business, been around for 80 years, James Orfitelli makes all the ice cream, and the quality is right up there with Haagen Daz & Ben & Jerry’s,” Jeff says confidently.
What makes the ice cream so good is the fact that it is 14% butterfat and it is dense. According to Jeff, it has a 50% overrun, which is a just fancy way to say it has much less air pumped into it than other ice creams on the market.
“Pick up a pint of our ice cream and feel the weight,” says Jeff. “It’s dense, creamy and delicious with a spicy finish to boot!”