What’s more refreshing and joy-inducing than ice cream? How about a cone with fresh fruit blended right into the mix. For Denver resident and globetrotter Hap Cameron, no treat could be truer than the real-fruit ice cream he devoured while growing up in New Zealand.
“I was 10 years old when I got my first job working on an orchard,” Cameron says. “I was picking raspberries and making the equivalent of $4.20 for eight-hour days. As soon as I was paid I spent my first paycheck on real-fruit ice cream for my dad and me.”
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Following Cameron’s stint of living and working around the world (in nine years he had 32 jobs on seven continents), and meeting his wife, Mandy, in Sayulita, Mexico, the couple decided to call Colorado home. Despite all of his travels, Cameron never came across anything quite like those childhood cones filled with orchard-berry ice cream. So in June 2015, he launched Happy Cones Co, a NZ-inspired, specialty real-fruit ice cream food truck that’s since been served at Avanti Food and Beverage, The Big Wonderful, Civic Center Eats, River North Brewery, and Finn’s Manor as well as the Denver Flea. Each fruit-based flavor is handmade on the spot using a blender that’s manufactured in New Zealand. In fact, according to Cameron, this is the first one of its kind to be shipped into the United States.
At the moment, Happy Cones serves four flavors—mixed berry, peach, mango, and banana—each in a 60-to-40 ratio of ice cream to fruit. All included, each sugar or waffle cone totes about two full scoops of ice cream ($4.50 to $5.50), and less for the kiddo cone ($3). The blend features premium vanilla bean ice cream as the base ingredient, purchased in three-gallon tubs, which Cameron hand-cuts each week into 100-gram rectangles that efficiently feed into the blender. This prep-work takes three to four hours in a giant freezer at Cameron’s commissary kitchen. (Just last week, Cameron received a custom template from his NZ manufacturer, to help slice the ice cream and make the ratios even more exact.)
For the optimal consistency, all of the fruit is frozen. “It’s always a juggling act—the fruit and ice cream can’t be too hard or too soft, and they have to balance each other to be just right,” he says. Compared to a brick-and-mortar shop, which can bear more control over factors like ambient temperature, this has been challenging for the mobile ice cream vendor.
Whenever possible, Cameron serves fruit grown here in the Centennial State, like 200 pounds of fresh organic Palisade peaches and pitted, frozen cherries from the same orchard.
As for Cameron’s favorite, it’s mixed berry, because it most closely resembles what he grew up enjoying. “Ice cream is great all by itself, but adding friendly service is the whole goal so that everyone leaves happier. That’s the sole guiding force of the business,” Cameron says. “We want to make the world happier one ice cream at a time.”
Starting this Saturday, stop by LoHi’s BambuCycles, a cold-pressed juice bar (and previous bike shop), to grab your Happy Cones. Cameron will set up his blender for an in-house collaboration from October 3 until November. He’ll be there from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday and Friday and from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 2563 16th St., happyconesco.com