A few years ago, I wrote about the Taharka Brothers raising money for an ice cream truck in Baltimore, Maryland. Later, NPR.org voted Taharka Brothers as one of Maryland’s best Ice Cream shops to visit. Since then they’ve received numerous local awards. A few years ago, I wrote about the Taharka Brothers raising money for an ice cream truck in Baltimore, Maryland. I continue to follow them online to stay up-to-date with their creative events. Their initial press release and story stood apart from everyone because of the name of their ice cream flavors. The names are inspired by Cornel West, Langston Hughes and August Wilson. And, my design eye love their brand image: an ice cream sundae on top of a fist pump as the arm uses political books as a foundation.
Flash forward to today, the Taharka Brothers not only sell ice cream in their successfully funded pink truck seen in Baltimore, but the back is a mini bookstore of African-American history and political books. Last Spring, I visited The Taharka Brothers office and kitchen. Next to their building the truck was parked. It was empty, for the staff was preparing it for a summer of activities. The focus of their summer was working with fellow Baltimore native D. Watkin to promote his book, “The Cookup: A Crack Rock Memoir” (a New York Times bestseller) and a new ice cream flavor, The Cook Up.
The Cook Up flavor is a Carrot Apple Cake ice cream studded with pecans, cinnamon spiced and cream cheese frosting. Each ingredient was thoughtfully chosen to represent Watkins’ life experiences. The carrot is a double meaning of Watkin’s vision of possibilities, and it stands for capitalism, money and gold. Knowledge and education are symbolized by apples. Cinnamon’s heat is Baltimore’s dangerous inner city. Pecans represent seeds to self-discovery, in which one is “coming out of the shell.” The cream cheese frosting is also a symbol money.
“D. Watkins’ essays and life story portray some of Baltimore’s contemporary realities and an underclass grappling with today’s current economic inequality and social disparity. D’s vantage point, coupled with his prescription of grassroots literacy advocacy focused on those in places of concentrated poverty, blend perfectly with the Taharka Brothers Ice Cream values and mission,” said Darius Whitmore, the Creative Director for Taharka Brothers.
In Taharka Brothers’ small office, we talked about dairy, their business aspirations and working with D. Watkins. I tasted a tiny piece of Haitian chocolate by De La Sol Haiti, that melted my knees (I’m dreaming of the day Taharka Brothers introduces a flavor using Haitian chocolate and hoping it’s named after a African American female revolutionary or political artist). We left the office with a pint of The Jazzman’s Blues, a blueberry ice cream with hints of Jasmine, a flavor named after Professor Cornel West. It’s dreamy, juicy and floral. I continue to watch Taharka Brothers expand their business with hopes of one day buying their flavors online or in Brooklyn. Until then, I will finish my summer reading list with D. Watkin’s “The Cookup: A Crack Rock Memoir”
Note: Follow Taharka Brothers on Twitter for daily locations, and when visiting Baltimore, Maryland, visit their website for a list of shops selling their pints.