FONT & AUDIO
A tasty partnership
If you walk into any Salt & Straw ice cream shop come April, you'll get a unique chance to enjoy a pretty cool flavor created by a Forest Hills Elementary School fourth-grader.
That's because Salt & Straw — which has partnered with schools near each of its stores since 2012 — will open its doors in downtown Lake Oswego in early 2018 and is asking Forest Hills students to come up with their most wacky and creative flavor ideas.
Jill Pearson from Salt & Straw visited Forest Hills on Tuesday to tell the students about the opportunity, which is known as the "Student Adventure Program."
"Salt & Straw was founded as a place for people to come together with their friends and family and have a special treat," Pearson told students. "You guys are helping to continue that tradition."
Each fourth-grade student can submit one flavor idea in January. Many of the flavors will be created at the Salt & Straw kitchen and taste-tested over the next few months.
"There are basically no rules," said Pearson, "We want ideas that are special to you."
The winning flavor will be available to purchase at any Salt & Straw location for the entire month of April, along with other flavors designed by elementary school students throughout Portland.
Salt & Straw co-founder and head ice cream maker Tyler Malek said the Student Adventure Program is an extremely valuable experience from a personal and business perspective.
"This menu gives me one moment in time to tap into the completely unadulterated creativity of local elementary students. I don't think there could ever be anything greater in this world," he said. "This is an experience that no one could understand until you're sitting in this room with stacks upon stacks of beautifully written, carefully crafted letters. When kids are that age, there's nothing that can't be possible, especially in the form of ice cream."
Some of the ideas already churning in the head of Forest Hills students are quite creative. Georgia Truax is considering either a rosewater macaron of a sparkling apple cider flavor (that fizzes thanks to Pop Rocks, of course) for her submission.
Sadie Hovey hasn't honed her flavor, but has a clear idea of the direction she wants to go.
"I love candy, so I came up with a bunch of ideas full of candy," she said.
The students will have all of winter break to brainstorm their flavors, but will have to wait patiently for the 10-12 weeks of taste-testing and ice-cream creation to find out the winning flavor.
"There will be one winner, but all of Forest Hills will win," said fourth-grade teacher Kristen Swan. That's because all of the money earned from the sale of the winning Forest Hills flavor will be donated back to the school.
"As we've grown, I don't think we can (nor should) exist as a company if we can't have a positive impact in each neighborhood we do business in," said Malek. "This fundraiser gives us an opportunity to use our ice cream as a way to unleash the students' imagination and desire to create good, and it creates a way for kids to use their energy to help raise money to support their school."
Fourth-grader Owen Vance said he's excited to be part of the program, even if his flavor doesn't win. "The flavor will be representing the school, which is awesome," he said.
"It'll be really cool to have our ice cream in an actual famous ice cream shop," agreed James Olshey.
Malek said he hopes this fundraiser, and Salt & Straw's presence in Lake Oswego, will have a positive impact on the community.
"Opening in LO, we have an opportunity to show that the only way for a business to be successful is if they care for their neighbors and work diligently to support the public schools and local nonprofits," he said. "I think Salt & Straw can show that this is the new norm for companies doing business in LO and that a strong business can only succeed in a strong community."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.