Steamboat’s Newest Guilty(free) Pleasure07/21/2023 07:10AM ● By Casey Hopkins
(Magic Chonk Ice Cream Founder, Bryan Swintek. Photo courtesy Casey Hopkins.)
Steamboat Springs, CO - Gone are the days of chasing down a rickety, old ice cream truck for a half-melted, preservative-filled Spongebob popsicle that looks like a character from ‘The Hills Have Eyes,’ only to leave you sticky and stained with artificial food coloring all over the Rocket Power shirt your mom just bought you from Target. Enter Magic Chonk, Steamboat’s only vegan ice cream on wheels that’s free of the Food Allergy Research and Educations “big nine” allergens.
“I’ve always had a really bad stomach, but I have a huge sweet tooth so I’d eat a lot of dairy-free ice cream and it was just never satisfying,” said Bryan Swintek, owner and operator of Magic Chonk. “Why does dairy free ice cream always have to be a health food? You eat the whole pint and you’re like ‘I want more!’”
Fed up with the limited options that matched his particular diet and after trying to make his own products at home, Bryan decided to make his ice cream dream a reality. In 2021, he began working with a branding agency as well as a chef to nail down Magic Chonk’s marketing and basic recipe, then spent last summer learning all about food science and refining the ice cream’s formula. “It’s a science experiment. I’m an engineer at heart. I love data and process,” Bryan says.
Magic Chonk currently has three flavors – chocolate, vanilla and Brownies in the Clouds - but Bryan is constantly toying with new ideas (like a savory ketchup ice cream) and loves to receive input from his customers about what kind of flavors they’d want to see him produce next. “All ice cream never has enough stuff in it. My whole thing behind this is I want it to be packed with flavor, really satisfying, really delicious.”
Because Bryan wasn’t going to have a storefront and didn’t want to throw money at an expensive food truck, he decided to get creative and bought a souped-up, backwards tricycle with an insulated freezer mounted on the front from an Oregon-based company called Icicle Tricycles. “It’s a glorified lemonade stand,” Bryan says. “It was something that just seemed really fun!”
On top of being environmentally conscious (Magic Chonk is made with rainforest-safe palm oil and non-GMO ingredients), Bryan splits 2% of his revenue and donates them to LiftUp and The Transgender Center of the Rockies. “The goal with Magic Chonk was to create a business that brings good into the world and acts as an example for putting people over profits,” Bryan said. “Donating 2% from day one fits into that vision and is only one of the ways I want to accomplish that goal.”
When he’s not riding his trike around town, you can find Bryan at Little Toots Park from 11:00 to 1:30 on Thursday’s and Friday’s, in the driveway of Hala GearSpace Thursday and Friday evenings and the Steamboat Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Find Magic Chonk on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok @MagicChonk for more up-to-date info on where to get your cup of deliciousness! You can also visit https://www.magicchonk.com/