Menuism Dining Blog
Dining education for foodies

Photo by Donny Tsang

Doug Quint is one half of the duo behind the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (BGICT), one of the most giggle-inducing yet revered food trucks in all of NYC (no small feat, considering their relatively recent debut in summer 2009!). Everyone wants a piece, including The Rachael Ray Show, which just aired a sweet feature on all things BGICT. Not content to sling just any old soft serve with mundane toppings like chocolate sprinkles, Doug and his partner Bryan Petroff have become known, and loved, for their innovative toppings and flavor combos with tongue-in-cheek names like Salty Pimp (chocolate-dipped vanilla with dulce de leche and sea salt) and the Choinkwich (chocolate soft serve, caramelized bacon and chocolate wafer sandwich). You can find ’em at Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and follow ’em on Twitter @BigGayIceCreamTruck.

Congratulations on your recent appearance on the Rachael Ray Show! Is there a future for you in TV?

Maybe. We’ve turned down numerous offers from production companies who want to do a reality show about BGICT, because we’re not interested in doing a “turn the cameras on and force a situation” sort of project. There are other ways to do a show though, and if the right offer and situation developed, we might just go for it. It’s certainly out there in the ether.

Favorite flavor of all time? Favorite topping?

You’re not allowed to ask that question. Ha! We don’t play favorites. We’re a small enough operation that we really can serve stuff that we like and not have to worry about leaving things out. I mean, I love M&Ms on soft serve, but you can get that anywhere—leaving us a great niche to put vinegar on your ice cream instead.

How do you come up with your flavor combinations?

Once we gained access to a soft-serve machine our palates began to understand what would suit it. Our imaginations kicked into overdrive.

You’re a professional bassoon player (awesome!). How has starting a business affected your musical career?

During the summer of ’09 I kept the bassoon playing going along with the truck, but this summer I put it on hold. By the time we wrap the truck up (in late October), I’ll be back playing bassoon full-time. I’m not sure how it has affected my career, but I definitely miss having the bassoon in my hands.

What was the impetus for BGICT?

It was all a matter of timing. I was wrapping up my comprehensive exams at CUNY and doing a great deal of freelance bassooning all over the Northeast. I had it in my head that maybe I’d spend the summer in NYC instead of heading off to music festivals, and maybe I would get an odd part-time job. A friend led me to the chance to take over an ice cream truck, and it was too bizarre to pass up.

What’s the season for BGICT?

We have a seasonal permit that runs from April through October. We can do private events in the off-season, but that’s our window for on-street service.

Do all things BGICT go into hibernation during the off-season?

No way! Last winter I used our Twitter account to help promote arts organizations by doing ticket giveaways. With the truck dormant I thought it would be nice to (a) help out organizations I’m affiliated with and (b) give the followers some seats at great events.

Congratulations on your new jingle, Big Gay Ice Cream Song, penned by the talented Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s. How’d that happen?

Jane is an old buddy and has a great sense of humor. We really wanted a pop song to submit to folks who were running audio interviews, and I thought perhaps Jane might think the project fun. She did, and our gem was born!

You said you planned to convert the song into bells; will we hear it before the end of this season?

The tune will definitely be programmed into the bells by next summer.

What’s been the most unexpected benefit of becoming a soft-serve slinger?

Serving great customers all day long, making folks laugh, and watching their eyes bug out (or roll back in ecstasy) when they try our goods.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered with BGICT?

The hours are tough, and soft-serve machines aren’t really made to serve the number of people I need for it to keep up with. No insurmountable challenges yet.

On the BGICT blog, you write about some really amazing, tender and hilarious moments that have come about as a result of this venture, like when your 5-year-old superfan with Asperger’s learned what the word “gay” meant. What are a few moments you’ll never forget?

That question is so hard to answer. My notebooks and memories are filled with amazing interactions. The most recent is always the one I refer to, and that’s the one you name.

Heeb Magazine wrote one of my favorite quotes about BGICT: “Winning over homophobes one bacon/chocolate sandwich at a time.” When you started developing your branding, is that what you had in mind?

Nah. We just needed a placeholder name for the Facebook group. I didn’t want a vanity name for the project, but I needed to call the whole idea SOMETHING, so I said “the big gay ice cream truck.” So many people laughed that we stuck with the placeholder name. After that we started to realize that putting the truck out, with the signs and all, would be kind of ballsy and might get some interesting reactions.

What/who are a few of your favorite food truck vendors in NYC?

There are a bunch here in NYC that serve great food, but I’m going to throw my “favorites” to two in particular. Country Boys is a truck that parks at the Red Hook Ball Fields on weekends and serves some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. My other favorite is Treats Truck. Owner/baker/trucker Kim Ima takes her role (as mom, making sure you’ve got the treat you need to help your day) absolutely seriously.

Will you be coming back next year?

Yup.

Any plans to extend your brand beyond ice cream and/or beyond the truck?

Yes…as soon as our season wraps up we’re convening with friends and advisors to explore some ideas we have. It’s hard to do any expansion during the summer season, so once the truck is parked for the winter we’ll be acting on some of the fiendish ideas we’re formulating.

What’s next for BGICT?

What’s NOT next? Ha! We have ideas. Two things are certain: we want to keep making people smile, and keep making bellies happy.

Posted by on October 8th, 2010

Nikki Jong is an earth-friendly eater who’s never met a vegetable she didn’t adore. In addition to her edible plant obsession, she nurses a neverending hankering for sustainable seafood and is a champion oyster eater (and shucker). Nikki loves hoppy beers, bold, spicy reds, and believes that nothing beats a cold glass of moscato d’Asti on a hot summer afternoon. As Editor of The Menuism Blog, she has the pleasure of interviewing some of the hungriest, thirstiest and most ambitious folks in food and wine.

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