Little Baby’s Ice Cream is big on wild, outsized ideas. “Generally,” says CEO Pete Angevine. “They stay as that, just ideas.”
So it was with some surprise that Angevine found a group of local high schoolers willing to take on what may be his most outsized of all ice cream-related ideas: Sending a pint of Little Baby’s where no pint has ever dared to go—into space.
It all started early last year, with another wild idea from Little Baby’s: To create sustainably-innovative pint containers in anticipation of their push into groceries throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Working with local manufacturer Union Packaging, Little Baby’s made a new ice cream container, shaped like a Chinese food box and coated with a chemical called enshield, rather than the usual plastics-based poly coating. This allows the (sadly) empty container to be rinsed and thrown into the recycling bin. It is, as far as Angevine knows, the first ice cream container to use enshield.
This was exciting to the folks at Little Baby’s, who started scooping their homemade ice cream from their “Flavor Blaster One” tricycle in 2011, and who are known for their innovative take on the world of ice cream (cucumber dill flavor, anyone?). So now, they wondered: What’s the most absurd thing we could possibly do with this? Answer: Space flight, of course.
On a lark, Angevine called Simon Hauger, the principal of project-based The Workshop School—whose tagline is “Teaching students to change the world”— which is around the corner from Little Baby’s West Philly outpost. Two weeks later, Angevine went in to meet with Hauger, expecting nothing would come of it. Instead, he ended up in front of a room full of students whose teacher had already created a curriculum around his proposed space launch, trying to field questions the ice cream entrepreneur was in no way qualified to answer, about the atmosphere in space and propulsion. “It didn’t seem that absurd to them,” Angevine says.
For the next few months, some 20 students split into three teams—science, media and data—to create a balloon-rocket system to launch a new packaged pint of Little Baby’s into space. Angevine recruited local filmmaker Jesse Engaard to film the actual launch, last June. This week, they released the absurdist-docu-comedy “Ice Cream in Space” on YouTube. And Angevine has started planning his next project, proposed by a student at The Workshop School: Cheesteak-flavored ice cream. Look for it (on earth) soon.