If you’re one of the nearly 120,000 members of the Northern Virginia Foodies Facebook group, you’ve been hearing a lot about Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches this summer. People have been constantly posting sightings of an elusive flavor, asking where the gourmet treats are stocked, or reviewing their latest purchases. One moderator of the group even posted a mukbang video on TikTok where he eats the Key Lime Pie sandwich in the shower.
Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches aren’t exactly new. Richmond-based chef Hannah Pollack started making them in 2016 for the restaurant where she worked at the time, now-closed Greenleaf’s Pool Room. She and her chef husband Xavier Meers started selling at farmers markets, then some small local grocery stores. Their creations quickly grew a following for cheffy flavors like miso-churro as well as crowd-pleasing combinations like the Cookie Monster (cookies and cream ice cream between chocolate chip cookies).
The operation has exploded over the past six years, from producing 100 sandwiches per week to 15,000 per day. They’re sold in gourmet shops, independent grocers, and other small chains up and down the East Coast, and shipped nationally via a partnership with online purveyor Goldbelly. Pollack suggests that part of the recent hype might have to do with Nightingale’s latest expansion push: The sandwiches became available in The Fresh Market locations across the country in April. Meanwhile, Nightingale’s bite-sized brand, Chomp, launched in Walmarts at the end of March. (Find a map of all the retailers carrying the products here.) Despite growing from a 200-square-foot restaurant kitchen to a 10,000-square-foot production facility in Richmond, the ice cream is still churned in small batches and cookies are baked by hand.
The latest viral moment might also have to do with some of Nightingale’s off-the-wall, limited-edition collabs. In July, it teamed up with Duke’s Mayonnaise for a banana-mayo ice cream sandwich. “You don’t taste mayonnaise, but you get the creaminess and just a little tang at the end,” Pollack says. “It actually makes the banana ice cream just more rich.” They also recently partnered with hotel heirless/influencer/fashion designer Nicky Hilton Rothschild for Nicky’s Blondie with vanilla honeycomb ice cream and golden graham cookies. It’s a big jump from the company’s early days when Nightingale was known for collaborations with local breweries (think gingerbread stout).
Part of the appeal also seems to be the scavenger hunt to find certain flavors, especially quirky seasonal ones. Every month, Nightingale produces a limited number of one-off flavors, such as watermelon creamsicle in July and root beer float in August. But the search is becoming easier and easier for fans.
“We’re just trying to get our ice cream sandwiches to as many customers as we can,” Pollack says. “Our goal is to keep growing and getting into places where it’s more accessible for everybody.”