Flavor // Ice cream activism

Last summer, the Kingfield neighborhood teamed up with local ice cream shop Sebastian Joe’s to bring attention to one of the city’s most notoriously pothole-laden roads.

The result was a new flavor called Nicollet Pothole that is still a hit after a year on the menu.

The flavor was meant to mimic Nicollet Avenue’s inadequacies in its ingredients, said Sarah Linnes-Robinson, executive director of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association. She said she brought the idea for the ice cream to Sebastian Joe’s after repairs to Nicollet Avenue were taken off the city’s budget for 2012.

“She told me it was going to be an activism ice cream,” said Sebastian Joe’s co-owner Michael Pellizzer.

Pellizzer said brainstorming for the ingredients was a family affair with Pellizzer and Linnes-Robinson both brining their children’s thoughts into the decision process.

Nicollet Pothole infuses chocolate ice cream with toffee acting as gravel, fudge mimicking the tar and finally salt, which has a constant presence during Minnesota’s winter months.

Pellizzer said initial expectations for Nicollet Pothole were low. “At first, I didn’t know if it was going to be very good, but it turned out great,” he said.

The successful ice cream also helped spread a message.

“It was a great way to point out the condition of the street over and over again without having to sound obnoxious,” Linnes-Robinson said.

She said road repairs for Nicollet Avenue were put back on the budget for 2013, but it’s unclear whether the ice cream had anything to do with that.

Pellizzer said a pint of the ice cream was shipped to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s office last year, and according to Rybak’s Twitter page he is a repeat customer.

“After working on 2011 Capital bgt today, I go to Sebastian Joe’s and find ironic new flavor: Nicollet Pot Hole. (FYI, Nic.fix in 2013 bgt),” Rybak said through his Twitter page on July 22.

Fans of the flavor are easy to find these days. In fact, Pellizzer said the flavor is among his most popular.

Since putting it back on the menu in the spring, Sebastian Joe’s ice cream makers have been making new batches of the flavor nearly as much as popular ice cream flavor mainstays Oreo, raspberry and chocolate chip.

The reason for its popularity is somewhat unknown, said Pellizzer, who said the unique name creates curiosity with his customers. He suspects the unusual blend of flavors keeps them coming back.

“The sweet and the salty creates the yin and the yang of the flavor,” Pellizzer said. “You get the sweetness and then the saltiness in the back of your tongue.”

For Pellizzer, the success of the ice cream has been great and certainly unexpected, but even more surprising is the possible effect it has had at City Hall.

“It is pretty cool to think a little ice cream store in South Minneapolis can make a flavor and maybe even have an affect on politics,” Pellizzer said.

Sebastian Joe’s has stores at 4301 Nicollet Ave. S., 4321 Upton Ave. S. and 1007 W. Franklin Ave.