I scream … You scream … We all scream … for Moorenkos!

Wait! What? That not the rhyme! But for local ice cream fanatics, the name “Moorenko’s” does have a rhyme of its own — local and yummy. Owner Susan Soorenko started the brand in a McLean ice cream store about 15 years ago. Her product now gets churned and frozen in Silver Spring. And the brand carries with it numerous fetching flavors: Cookie Overload, Moka Chocolate Chip, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, and Salted Caramel with Pralines, to name a few. And let’s not overlook Honey Lavender — with real lavender blossoms — and Cherry Stracciatella, which consists of Bordeaux cherries with chocolate shards.
An obvious question is this: how does a former fitness trainer and fitness center owner get wrapped up in the ice cream business, an endeavor that Soorenko herself says is “not all sprinkles and unicorns!” Her ice cream passion began after she vacationed with her sons out west where they sampled some outstanding frozen treats. Because she could not find equivalents in the DC metro area, she decided to start her own ice cream-making business.

Ice Cream U
“I went to the Ice Cream University in New York (it’s since moved to New Jersey),” she said. There, she studied with Malcolm Stogo (known as the Godfather of Ice Cream) and Bill Lambert, an industry revered dairy engineer (now deceased).” She then took two trips to Italy to study the art of gelato making. After that, Soorenko decided she was up to the task of making ice creams and set up her first shop in McLean. She called it Moorenko’s, an obvious play on her name and a cow’s favorite sound.After the lease of the McLean store ran out, Soorenko moved production into what at the time was the Gifford’s Ice Cream factory in Silver Spring to share the space while weathering the financial storm. Eventually Gifford’s went out of business, and Soorenko took over the facility.

Spreading the word
With such an array of out-there flavors by competitors, how does Soorenko compete with the apparent overload of unusual ice cream brands that are now jamming up market freezers? “It is very difficult,” she said. “It takes lots of demonstrations and social media hyping. But at tastings, people come up and say they love our flavors.”
Over the years, more and more markets and restaurants have spread the word about Moorenko’s ice creams. After a local Whole Foods Market started carrying the brand, its popularity spread from one, to 16, and now to all 53 regional Whole Foods Markets. “It’s been a whole new learning curve,” she said. “it means understanding the level of product and of distribution.” She recalled one tasting event in Bethesda when a representative from Giant sampled some of her ice cream. “We then got a call from Giant,” she said. “Now we are in almost 40 of their stores.” And the accolades keep coming in. For example, Moorenko’s has been named “Best Ice Cream in Washington” by Washingtonian!

What’s next…
Soorenko noted that Moorenko’s is a family business, and she and son Matt Klein, the company’s director of operations, are always on the lookout for the next outreach opportunity. They and the staff are involved in brainstorming new flavor ideas. In fact, they gather four times each year, at the beginning of each season, to dream up and develop new ice cream concoctions. “We produce 70 flavors at any given moment,” she said, “and we have recipes for hundreds more.” The bottom line is that all flavors must be “rich, decadent, and as wholesome as possible.” And despite all the new flavors, what’s still the most popular? Salted Caramel with Praline and the old standby, Vanilla! Made locally…and still as yummy as ever!

Alexandra Greeley

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