Hoffman's Houston
a chilly reception

Ken Hoffman celebrates the triumphant return of a totally nuts Houston phenomenon

Ken Hoffman celebrates the return of a totally nuts Houston phenomenon

Ken Hoffman Chocolate Bar Totally Nuts
Life is back to normal, er, nuts, at The Chocolate Bar.  Courtesy photo

Two weeks ago, I stopped by The Chocolate Bar in Rice Village for my usual: a large cup of Ken Hoffman’s Totally Nuts ice cream. It’s ridiculously inspired — milk chocolate ice cream spiked with three types of chocolate candy and five kinds of nuts (roasted almonds, cashews, pecans, peanuts and walnuts).

There are so many add-ins, the ice cream is merely spackling to hold the candy and nuts together. It’s not like those national chains where you order a Chocolate Almond cone and it’s take 40 licks to hit an almond.

The young man behind the counter said, “We don’t have Ken Hoffman’s Totally Nuts anymore. We’re replacing some of our flavors and that one is being replaced.”

Break my heart, why don’t you? My empire is crumbling!

Ken Hoffman’s Totally Nuts has always been a crown jewel in my collection of fine gourmet foods. It’s right up there with the Ken Hoffman Hot Dog (sauerkraut and brown mustard) at Minute Maid Park, the Hoffy Burger, and Hoffy Sliders (certified Angus beef, cheese, bbq sauce, and an onion ring on a Stella Partin sweet sourdough bun) at Demeris BBQ, and the Hoffy Twist (chocolate covered cinnamon cruller) at select Shipley Do-Nuts.

There’s also a Ken Hoffman Sandwich at Kenny & Ziggy’s authentic New York deli on Post Oak, but they keep it on their “secret menu,” so I can’t mention it. You like chicken salad? You like bacon? Then stand back and have your phone camera ready.

Naturally I was devasted to hear about the demise of “Ken Hoffman’s Totally Nuts” ice cream. So I dropped a short note on the Chocolate Bar’s website: “What happened?”

Back and forth, back and forth, and...

My crazy good ice cream is back at both Chocolate Bar locations, 2521 University Blvd. in Rice Village and 1835 West Alabama St.

“The decision to discontinue ‘Ken Hoffman’s Totally Nuts’ ice cream was about the way it was made, only that. The dairies had a challenge of overcoming nut allergies, and cross-contamination of the product,” explains David Kahn, part of the new management team at the Chocolate Bar. So that’s it — new management, new decisions, new ideas, new flavors in the ice cream case.

I don’t care about the other flavors, frankly. Go on:

“Nut allergies are more prevalent than ever today. We didn’t want to cross-contaminate the other flavor lines and be forced to train our employees how to use a Epi-Pen to revive customers that have a nut allergy,” he says.

“This flavor has five different nuts and three kinds of chocolate. It’s our most expensive ice cream to produce. But all issues have been straightened out and it’s back in both of our stores.”

All’s well that ends...well, in my stomach. What else does new management have in store for the Chocolate Bar stores?

“In the past, the Chocolate Bar used an ice cream base with 10 percent butterfat, then added inclusions (mix-ins) and chocolate to finish off the ice cream. Now we are using two different dairies to make our ice cream with 14 percent butterfat, which qualifies it as super premium. The higher the butterfat, the creamier the ice cream,” Kahn said.

Other changes, the Chocolate Bar now offers cones and the serving sizes have been simplified – ask for one, two or three scoops. You’ll be charged by the scoop.

And despite the name on the door, the Chocolate Bar now sells — gasp! — vanilla ice cream. More new flavors have come, especially a few funny flavors concocted for children (“C is for Cookie” blue-colored ice cream), some old flavors have gone.

Bye-bye “Cape Cod Crunch,” old friend, I will miss you. But I’m rather fond of the new “Triple Chocolate.” I’m so fickle.

Longtime cake favorites, like Aunt Etta’s skyscraper chocolate-on-chocolate layer cake, remain in the cake and pie case. Added to the lineup: Strawberry Cake, Carrot Cake, New York Cheesecake and re-worked Red Velvet Cake and Pecan Pie.

The Chocolate Bar also increased checkout stations to cut down on wait time. I want my ice cream...and I want it NOW!


Have you tried the Ken Hoffman is Totally Nuts flavor? Share your review with our drive-thru reviewer in the comments or on Twitter