Family rolls into Bridgeville with ice-cream truck dream
Peachy Paterno could be rolling into a neighborhood near you, thanks to a special twist on a local ice cream truck.
Upper St. Clair resident Mike Baughman, along with his wife, Kristen, and young children roll through Bridgeville and nearby areas in their Rolling Cones truck selling Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream.
Though not affiliated with the University Park-based creamery, the truck sells all the famous flavors. The idea came from the Baughmans' first date in six months. The couple has two young children.
“We had just started talking about this idea. We always wanted to sell ice cream,” Mike Baughman said. “It was (Kristen's) idea to do the food truck so we could still maintain our jobs. It was my idea to do the Penn State ice cream.” He graduated from the university in 1999.
A week later, the pair saw what now is their truck for sale just down the street from their home. That was in April, and by July 5, the family was selling ice cream.
“When we sell, we do it as a family,” Baughman said. “It's me, my wife, our two boys, and we're usually in the truck together. We said the only way we would do this is if we could all do it together.”
He said Joe, 4, and Henry, 2, enjoy handing out ice cream and waving in customers.
“We knew it would be tough, but we wanted to teach the boys life lessons by including them,” he said.
Baughman said the true inspiration came from his wife's parents, who six years ago opened a pizza shop in Donegal with no business or restaurant experience — just a passion for pizza.
“They made a run at it, and they've been open six years,” he said. “They were really our No. 1 inspiration. We thought that if they could do it, we could do it.”
The truck often sets up shop at the Thomas Studio for Performing Arts on Washington Pike in Bridgeville, and the response has been good from both the ice cream's loyalists and those trying it for the first time, Mike Baughman said.
“A lot of people who have never had it have stopped just to try it at our truck,” he said. “But, of course, you have people who have had it, and we're starting to build a loyal following that kind of follows us wherever we set up.”
Riverhounds defenseman Andrew Marshall never had the Penn State ice cream before his girlfriend introduced him to Rolling Cones, but, he said, he's hooked.
“I definitely became a fan of it for sure,” he said.
His favorite so far is Peachy Paterno, but “cookie dough is a good one too,” he said.
He said he'd love to see the Baughmans sell outside of Highmark Stadium, where the Riverhounds play.
James Troy Brown, assistant manager of the Berkey Creamery, founded in 1865, said a number of businesses come in weekly to purchase ice cream to resell at their respective businesses.
“Since we do sell at retail only, we do not keep a list of those businesses and organizations,” he said. “It does appear to be becoming more and more popular with hotels, restaurants and other businesses who seem to be in areas with major PSU alumni numbers.”
But the Baughmans aren't necessarily aiming for the Penn State crowd.
“We sell Penn State ice cream, but the truck isn't about Penn State,” Mike Baughman said. “It's about sharing something we're passionate about with other people and hoping to get them to enjoy it too.”
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.