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Happy Cones Co.
Happy Cones Co. Photo by Caitlin Clement
Eat and Drink

Meet the Man Bringing New Zealand–Style Ice Cream to Denver

Mixed with real fruit, Hap Cameron’s soft-serve swirls offer Coloradans a taste of his homeland at Happy Cones Co.

Growing up in New Zealand, Hap Cameron’s first job was picking berries at a local farm when he was 10 years old. “With my very first paycheck, I bought dad and me my favorite ice cream, which in New Zealand, is called real fruit ice cream,” says Cameron, the founder-owner of Happy Cones Co., which has been serving New Zealand–style ice cream in Edgewater since 2019.

Over the next 20 years, Cameron went on to work 32 different jobs on all seven continents before his 30th birthday (he even wrote a book about it). But whether he was teaching English in Korea or working at an orphanage in Mexico, Cameron never tasted anything better than that ice cream he shared with his dad. Halfway through his travels, Cameron met his wife, Mandy (a local Coloradan), at a surf bar while backpacking through Mexico. The two hit it off, and Cameron decided to make Colorado his home. It was while waiting for his green card in New Zealand—right before moving to the United States—that Cameron acquired an ice cream machine from a family friend. And the rest is history. When he got to the States, Cameron purchased an old West Virginia school bus from Craig’s List and opened up a mobile shop in 2015. In six years, Happy Cones has expanded into two storefronts—one at Edgewater Public Market, and a second location at the Golden Mill, which opened this past summer. Cameron even talks of a potential third location in the future.

Cameron’s ice cream is made to order by blending his homemade sweet cream ice cream with fresh fruit of your choice (think: mixed berries, bananas, and more). This is where that New Zealand–made ice cream machine comes in. It uses an auger (a rotating metal blade) to blend the fruit and ice cream together right in front of you—feeding it out into Happy Cone’s signature swirled, soft-serve ribbon of pure deliciousness. And when you see the vibrant swirls in Happy Cone’s ice cream, you can bet it’s all natural. “All the flavor and color just comes from the fruit,” Cameron says. This makes his ice cream a little less sweet than conventional soft serve, but there’s no artificial colors or flavors.

The creamery also offers traditional ice cream, scooped from the freezer into a bowl or cone. A popular flavor with both New Zealanders and Denverites is Happy Cones Co.’s Hokey Pokey ice cream—golden, crunchy honeycomb toffee folded into sweet vanilla ice cream. When served, the hokey pokey (the delicious toffee) starts to partially melt into the ice cream, creating silky ribbons of toffee goodness. Don’t worry, though, there’s still enough crunch to go around. “All the hokey pokey, all the honeycomb, we make that from scratch,” Cameron says. You may even catch the team breaking up the sheets of hokey pokey when you stop by.

Despite his travels across the world, Cameron still looks to his roots in New Zealand when seeking inspiration for new flavors. He gets a lot of ideas from candies and sweets that are common back home. “Crunchy Bars is a New Zealand classic,” Cameron says. “Orange chocolate chip is another classic New Zealand flavor, and Pineapple Lumps is another candy we’re looking at a flavor for at the moment.”

Whether you order the classic mixed berry, the Sunday Brunch, Hokey Pokey or any of the new flavors on rotation, Happy Cones Co. has had a motto for its employees and customers since day one: Everybody leaves happy (the phrase is even on the wall in their Edgewater shop).

“We just create a fun environment where it doesn’t really feel like work,” Cameron says. “We just come, turn the music on, just dance, and just have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”

Find Happy Cones Co. at Edgewater Public Market, 5505 W. 20th Ave, Edgewater; and the Golden Mill, 1012 Ford St., Golden

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