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The Chocolate Moose is more than ice cream

Toby Foster with headphones on, holding mic, Elijah Lawson talking, both looking at a stainless steel machine

Chocolate Moose Production Manager Elijah Lawson walks Toby Foster through the steps of making ice cream. (Jordan Davis)

“And as the blade rotates and the interior cylinder freezes, it begins to churn the ice cream into a wonderful fluffy content that will be established shortly thereafter.”

This week on the show, we kick off the summer season with a story about ice cream.

Toby Foster talks with Jordan Davis and Elijah Lawson of The Chocolate Moose, Bloomington's classic ice cream stand, and so much more. And we go into the kitchen with Chris Manansala and Maria St. Claire of Pinoy Garden Cafe to learn how to make their vegetarian lumpia.


The Chocolate Moose is an ice cream shop and café located in Bloomington, Indiana. Its origins date back to 1933, when Cletus May opened May’s Café after losing his manufacturing job during the Great Depression. There have been several owners, a few name changes, and a brief location change, but it has always been a huge part of the community. When I moved to Bloomington about fifteen years ago, it was a quaint and picturesque little stand on Walnut Street, and many longtime residents have fond memories of standing in the parking lot, lining up for ice cream on a warm summer night and chatting with friends and neighbors while we waited.

Around 2017, as is often the story with such locations, the land got sold to a developer. Although the Chocolate Moose still makes their ice cream in the same machine they did then (they only have one machine!), they had no choice but to adapt. The developer did make sure that the café still had a retail location on the first floor, so they were able to maintain that business, and they also opened satellite locations closer to Indiana University’s campus and in neighboring Nashville, Indiana. They increased their coffee service to stay busier during the winter months and introduced a line of vegan ice cream that is available both in their stores and in local grocery stores.

The Chocolate Moose also started hosting a weekly event during the summer called Food Truck Friday, and the community feeling that was a little bit lost when the original stand got torn down is alive and well each Friday in Switchyard Park when about a dozen different vendors gather to sell their food to huge crowds of people looking to try something new. On a recent Friday there were barbecue options, Venezuelan food, Filipino food, falafel sandwiches, tacos, burritos, and a few dessert options, including the Chocolate Moose. Kids ran around freely, dogs barked, bands played, and everyone seemed to be having a genuinely good time. Jordan Davis is the director of operations at the Chocolate Moose and largely responsible for growing Food Truck Friday into the event it is today. I visited him and production manager Elijah Lawson to chat about the history of the Chocolate Moose, how the ice cream gets made, and how the idea for Food Truck Friday was born.

Mentioned on the show:

No Dishes Podcast

Food Truck Fridays

Brown County Coffee

The Chocolate Moose, Brown County location

Full interview with Chris Manasala of Pinoy Garden Cafe

Music on this Episode:

The Earth Eats theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey.

Additional music on this episode from Universal Production Music.

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