Sometimes the synergy that results from the combination of two seemingly disparate ideas is borderline unbelievable; they fit together like pieces of two different puzzles that interlock seamlessly to form a new, more interesting picture.
For those of you unfamiliar with Coolhaus, it is a Los Angeles based business with multiple storefronts, trucks, and distribution in thousands of grocery stores that specializes in architecturally inspired ice cream sandwiches, bars, and pints. They pair unique ice cream and cookie flavors to create sandwiches that have been constructed with the care and creativity that an architect would use to design a building. Architecture inspires the food, and the food becomes its own form of architecture (“farchitecture”), teaching the masses of happy customers enjoying their ice cream sandwiches a little about what may be an unfamiliar discipline.
The more I think about how well architecture and ice cream sandwiches complement each other, the more it boggles my mind. First of all, Coolhaus is named after Dutch architect Remment Koolhaas. Ice cream is cold, the storefront is a haus (German for house) that sells them, and each ice cream sammy represents its own little coolhaus with a roof and a floor (just check out their logo – they even added a chimney!).
The perfection of the title alone is enough to convince me that ice cream sandwiches and architecture were meant to be, but Natasha Case and Freya Estrella (Coolhaus co-founders) take the connection even farther, creating a brand with a distinct and consistent image that elevates the overall customer experience. They call a single-tier ice cream sandwich “one story,” and a two-tiered one “two story.” Their website design features graph paper backgrounds, reminiscent of blueprints. Their signature ice cream sandwiches are inspired by and named after architects and architectural movements (my favorite is Mintimalism). The synergy between these two disciplines is like an elegant mathematical proof.
I’ve been purchasing their ice cream sandwiches at my local Whole Foods for about a year, and I finally made it to their Culver City storefront for the first time last week. Normally, my favorite is the classic combo of vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, and while I enjoyed Coolhaus’ equivalent, “Mies Vanilla Rohe,” their “Mintimalism” sandwich really stood out to me. It features mint chip ice cream (made with fresh mint and brown sugar) and double chocolate chip cookies. The purity of the mint makes it an unbeatably refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day!
Real mint flecks in the Mintimalism sandwich!
I’ve also tried their “Cara-Mia Lehrer” (salted caramel ice cream and snickerdoodle cookies) and “IM Pei-Nut Butter” (peanut butter ice cream and double chocolate cookies) sandwiches, but those aren’t the ones that I reach for repeatedly or find myself craving.
When I went to the store, I got their cookies and sweet cream ice cream sandwiched in between a Reese’s Pieces cookie and a snack food cookie. While the combination itself was pretty random and not as expertly paired as mint and dark chocolate, it worked well together and each of the components was delicious. The snack food cookie was particularly flavorful and was full of corn flakes, potato chips, pretzels, and butterscotch chips.
Reese’s Pieces side up
Snack Food side up
I also took a Fruity Pebbles cookie and a s’mores cookie to go, because I wanted to try as much as I could with their full menu at my disposal. The s’mores cookie was good, but light on the marshmallow for my taste, and their chewy Fruity Pebbles version of a Rice Krispies treat was great.
Knowing that someone in the world was able to see the points of overlap and convenient coincidences that arise when ice cream sandwiches and architecture are combined and proceeded to build a brand around them, bringing them into the world for all to enjoy, is a reminder that all the pieces really can fall into place. You never know what two seemingly unrelated things might turn into when intertwined. With an interdisciplinary mindset, you could create the next Cronut, or Comedy Hack Day, or spork!