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Ice Cream Brothers: A Grotto Short Film

Creator:
Published:
December 14, 2023
June 26, 2023
Watch these two brothers create unique flavors of ice cream in Boston.

The Rancatore Brothers have been making unique ice cream flavors since 1981. Since then, they've shared their love for ice cream with people in the neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts. Their unusual and delicious creations are inspired by twists on classic favorites, customer requests, flavors from abroad, and their own imaginations. Both their dedicated regulars and first-timers can find joy, nostalgia, and unexpected delight in the one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors they create for their community.

"It was always just generosity. Yes, you're trying to spread the word, but you're just delivering ice cream to hard-working people that turn into sixth graders when you bring them ice cream."

Video Transcript

Gus Rancatore: My name is Gus Rancatore, and I love ice cream.

Joe Rancatore: My name's Joe Rancatore, and I love ice cream. And my brother, Gus.

Boston, MA

Ice Cream Brothers

Let's go sample some flavors. Here, Gus, you want to be the customer?

Gus: Sure. Change of pace.

I'll try the Bombay.

Joe: So Bombay is saffron and cardamom with ground up pistachios, almonds, and cashew halves. Gus, you would like this.

Gus: Weird flavors, very weird flavors we make. We've made Chocolate Sluggo.

Joe: Dirty Malted Hydrox.

Gus: Chocolate No. 3.

Joe: Orange Pistachio.

Gus: Almond Amaretto.

Joe: Blossom.

Gus: Grape-nut Raisin.

Joe: Marionberry.

Gus: Rum and Raisin.

In 1981, I started Toscanini's Ice Cream.

Joe: And I started Rancatore's Ice Cream in 1985.

It was always just generosity. Yes, you're trying to spread the word, but you're just delivering ice cream to hardworking people that turn into sixth graders when you bring ice cream. They just go nuts for you.

(Joe, handing taste of ice cream to Gus) Orange Blossom Pistachio.

Gus: I love this.

Yeah, I think we both recognized that selling ice cream, which is a relatively benign product, could make us... People responded with friendliness to us.

Joe: Basil chocolate chip I think is plenty weird.

Gus: Orange kulfi.

Joe: Bastani sunnati.

Gus: Sausage ice cream from Naples, Italy.

Joe: Avocado galliano.

Gus: Tobacco ice cream.

Joe: Pineapple jalapeno.

Gus: The ice cream with insects.

Joe: Arg. I don't know.

Gus: This is milo or “may-lo” or “mee-lo.” However I pronounce it, there is somebody in the building who will correct me. Earlier I think I was talking a little about using miso, which is a kind of salty condiment used in Asian food. Sometimes we make flavors because ice cream makers love making them. These are Grape-Nuts, and Grape-Nuts are very popular with two distinct, widely separated groups — people from the Caribbean or West Indians and people from Northern New England or Eastern Canada. And I remember a conversation, I said, "Why do you like this flavor so much?" And he goes, "It's very popular ice cream at home, and this is almost the only place to get it in Boston."

Joe: What flavor are you eating?

Customer 1: Kulfi. I love this flavor.

Joe: Yeah.

Customer 2: My parents are from Mexico and my mom came and she tried it, she left and then the next three or four times I talked to her, she was telling me, "I'm just dreaming of the next time I go to Boston so I can have kulfi again."

Joe: Yeah, yeah. Wonderful.

Customer 2: You don't find that flavor anywhere else.

Joe: No, it's... Yeah. That's wonderful.

Ricardo: 50 units today, couple boxes, couple half gallons.

Producer Josh: You got a flavor you like?

Ricardo: Yeah, I like a couple flavors. Honeycomb, I like cookie dough. Almost everything they make is good because everything's from scratch and it's made daily, you know what I mean? Nothing's really frozen or anything. Everything's made within two, three days.

Gus: I think most people, even when they're doing simple foods like submarine sandwiches and pizza and ice cream cones, have an unspoken dialogue between themselves and the customers that involves something close to love, where you're trying to evince an emotional response.

Part of the research, Joe and I have already talked about almost chronically doing is I'd gone into a Baskin Robbins in Paris and when I came out there was this 12-year-old kid who is from Cambridge and he goes, “Mr. Tuscanini, what are you doing here?” And I said, "Eating ice cream."

Joe: We're here at the “Joe's Manufacturing Company” facility for producing ice cream. Behind me are two ice cream machines. These are Emory Thompson machines that will make four buckets at a time. And Tyler, what flavor are you making?

Tyler: Vegan coconut.

Joe: And Tim is making cookies and cream, our big, big seller, and this is going to all be for, today's Wednesday, for the upcoming weekend. It'll produce enough ice cream to get us through the whole weekend. We'll do this every day for the rest of summer.

Gus: I still like to eat ice cream. I do, and I don't know whether that's my all time favorite food, but it means many things. It's what I do. It's kind of a form of independence. It's kind of an expression of many aspects of my personality.

Joe: Paraphrasing what took ice cream from “like” to “love” is I think interesting and had me thinking about just my wife Nancy, or in terms of restaurants that I have liked but love. And a lot of it is that emotional feeling, emotional connection I get from the experience I had in the restaurant, with my wife that is more than just “like,” and so it opens me up to love, to be loving and to receive and get and give.

Creators:
Grotto
Published:
December 14, 2023
June 26, 2023
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