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Van Leeuwen's CEO on The Viral Mac and Cheese-Flavored Ice Cream: 'We've Been blown Away by the Response So Far' The demand for the product has been so high that Van Leeuwen's website reportedly crashed.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily

Van Leeuwen

If you've been on the internet in the past 24 hours, you probably haven't been immune to seeing the latest and greatest creation from ice cream company Van Leeuwen in partnership with Kraft — mac and cheese-flavored ice cream.

Yes, really!

The limited-edition and unorthodox Kraft Macaroni and Cheese flavor went on sale on Wednesday for $12 a pint, the brand even rolled out a free sample ice cream truck in New York City's Union Square.

Unsurprisingly, the public reaction to the flavor roll out has been a mixed bag of emotions among ice cream devotees and foodies around the country, with some claiming they are "over the moon" excited about the flavor and others claiming it's "disgusting."

"We knew the public would be intrigued by the bringing together of two of life's greatest pleasures — ice cream and mac & cheese — in a nostalgic and delicious spin this summer," Ben Van Leeuwen, CEO and Co-Founder of Van Leeuwen, told Entrepreneur exclusively. "We've been blown away by the response so far!"

Related: How the Founders of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Broke Through With an Unfamiliar Product

The demand for the product has been so high that Van Leeuwen's website reportedly crashed.

The flavor was a long time in the making for the brand, known for its wide array of ice cream offerings (including vegan options). "We knew we wanted the recipe to be simple and feature the cheesy Kraft flavor everyone loves," Van Leeuwen tells Entrepreneur. "We developed a few different recipes over a couple months and both our team and the Kraft team were in complete agreement over the recipe that eventually won out."

The ice cream brand was able to survive during the pandemic by switching to offering storefront products on delivery platforms, which helped Van Leeuwen see a major increase in business — a rare feat in the food industry.

"During the height of the lockdown, we saw our delivery sales increase by over 1000%," Van Leeuwen explained to us. "While this didn't completely cover the sales loss from typical walk-up business, it allowed us to keep our stores open and our team employed. It was imperative for us to keep the operation going to keep the team employed, keep up morale and keep serving our customers delicious ice cream, a treat they deserved even more than ever during the pandemic. We also moved to quickly setup our e-commerce business on our website so that everyone, not only in cities where we have scoop shops, could enjoy our ice cream."

This isn't the first time Van Leeuwen has debuted an out-of-the-box (rather, carton) flavor.

The company has rolled out flavors like Rhubarb Crumble With Sweet Basil and Mango Lassi as well as CBD-infused scoops and and a Spinach flavor two years ago in honor of Popeye's 90th birthday.

"We love challenging the notion of what ice cream "should" look and taste like so you can anticipate more innovative flavors from Van Leeuwen in the future," Van Leeuwen teases.

Related: Kraft Rebrands Ranch Dressing as 'Salad Frosting' to Trick Kids Into Eating Vegetables

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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