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It's hard to deny the power of ice cream, particular in the summer. It's also hard to can't deny the power of Kanye West. Thankfully, two Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy visionaries decided to combine the two forces (Yes, we just referred to ice cream as a force.) for something called Kanye Ice Cream Week Season 2.
In honor of the hip-hop heavyweight's 39th birthday on Wednesday (June 8), the folks over at Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream, First We Feast and Complex magazine decided to partner up for a 10 day New York City takeover, which devotes a portion of the shop's menu to all things Yeezy.
The limited-edition menu, which kicked off last Thursday (June 2) runs until Sunday (June 12), and features an eye-popping assortment of sweets like the "I Am A God" Ice Cream Croissantwhich, Beautiful Morning Milkshake and, of course, some treats for this kiddos like the Saint and Nori Shakes.
Just a day before the rapper's birthday, iHeartRadio took a trip to the parlor in Nolita to chat with owner and founder Nick Morgenstern about the origin of this incredible idea, his love for 'Ye and, of course, try a few items off the mouth-watering menu.
Whose idea was Kanye West Ice Cream Week?
I did it with this guy Chris Schonberger from First Week Feast. He and I did it last year. He approached me because we had a flavor. We always have a sundae on the menu called "I Am A God" and it’s this Japanese white toast with raw milk ice cream and honey. I think he saw that and was like 'This guy is into Kanye,' so he approached me. We did a menu last year. He asked me to do a flavor and I was like 'We can do a menu. We can do a few things.' He and I wrote a menu together. It's based on songs or references or stuff that [Kanye] did before and then it was a little out of control last year. We didn't really know what was going to happen. We just didn't think that it would be crazy and then it was crazy, so this year we planned it a little more and wrote a bigger menu that's mostly based on Life of Pablo.
Is there a fan favorite selection?
The thing that's selling the most is the Young Metro Milkshake. It's made with Hennessy, vanilla, whip cream and and Hennessy caramel.
As a chef, how do you come up with the idea to have something like corn flakes in a milkshake?
This is an exercise in conceptualizing in something that doesn't necessarily live in the food space normally, so we are marrying the idea of what would be a beautiful morning milkshake and we talk about it. What would be the thing that you would wanna have in the morning? It's a little bit of a play on something like a Vietnamese ice coffee. Put some condense milk in there. You could have condense milk on your corn flakes.
Condense milk is pretty delicious as is!
We kind of play around with it. For my end, I need to be able to stand behind all the flavors that we make. We're not just making food to be a gimmick or something like that. I believe in everything that's on the Kanye menu. I think it's all delicious and I think it makes funny jokes about stuff on the side, but if you eat it, you'll say 'This is really good.' That's the response that we get from the customers.
Does Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream offer any other themed ice cream weeks?
We've done a lot of different stuff. We collaborate with people in the fashion brand space. We collaborate with people in music less, but sometimes. We collaborate with a lot of other chefs as well. There's always something happening. This is a big one where that takes over the store for a specific period and it's very busy. When this thing happens, it sort of shuts the store down. Right now it's busy. It's 11:30 a.m. These are people who are getting in here right now to get their regular ice cream because they won't be able to get it [later]. It's going to be overrun with Kanye.
How are your employees dealing with Kanye Week?
It's a lot. They're also Kanye fans, so they're into it, but it gets pretty crazy for them. Kenya's amazing. She's one of our oldest employees and she really holds it down. She has a team that comes in soon to handle what's about to happen. There shouldn't be this many people here at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. She'll have people come in to back her up and then we're staffed pretty heavy around this time.
If you were to devote another week to another artist, who would it be?
I think it would be really fun to do something with Riff Raff because he is crazy and has so many different references. Chris [Schonberger] and I were talking yesterday. We're going to do a birthday cake tomorrow for Kanye and we were talking about it. His show got cancelled on Sunday. He's creating pandemonium. Chris was like 'He's just trying to make the people happy. I appreciate that.' I kind of feel the same way. I'm just trying to give people what they want.
You're just trying to curb their sweet tooth!
Another part of the reason this started was because there's a lot of imagery and discussion about the fact that one of the only things that seems to make Kanye smile on camera is ice cream. There's these pictures out there of him eating ice cream, smiling the way an actual child would actually smile, so I'm pretty sure he's an ice cream fan. It does have that effect. It makes sense. It matches well. If we were to pursue something with Riff Raff, it would be much more of an exercise at looking at puns and thinking about what that is. We have stuff here named for his kids and it's just fun whereas I think if you look at other collaborations, especially in the hip-hop music space where guys have really outside personalities, it might not have the same genuine appeal that this.
Can your customers expect Kanye West Ice Cream Week in the years to come?
It's something that we do with First Week Feast and as long as we both wanna do it, we'll keep doing it. It also helps that Kanye continues to put out music and clothing. He still does stuff, so there's an ongoing narrative for us to work with. The fact that he released so much content in the last year was a whole other theme. We only brought back one menu item from last year.
Which one is that?
The "I Am A God" Ice Cream Croissantwich because that was the most popular item last year, so we could choose to regurgitate stuff, but we don't even have to because he gave us all this new content.
Lastly, what's your favorite Kanye song or favorite Kanye album?
Hmmm. I've never really thought about that. I like College Dropout a lot, but I have to think about that. I couldn't say. I like a lot of his music actually. He's really an interesting artist. A lot of people say that he's crazy or whatever. . . .He's a genius. He's controlling his reality. He's creating the narrative. He's changing it for himself in whatever ways that he wants to and continues to be relevant. [Thats] not easy to do."
If you want to get your Kanye fix on the 11-item menu, head over to Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream on 2 Rivington St in New York, New York before June 12.
Photo: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio